Asian Pear Tarts begin with a flaky Pâte Brisée for a tart shell that's pre-baked and then filled with delicious almond cream and sliced Asian pears and baked until a lovely golden brown. These tarts are the perfect individual-sized dessert to serve during the fall season.
Why this recipe works
- Uses an easy-to-make buttery, flaky dough.
- A traditional French tart made with seasonal fruit.
- Made with a creamy almond filling.
- The filling can be made up to 2 days in advance.
Before you begin
Take out the following baking equipment.
Digital kitchen scale
2 small bowls
Stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment
Baking sheet pan
Pie weights, dried beans, or rice
Wire cooling rack
Allow all your butter to soften.
Read the recipe through from start to finish.
All-purpose flour is used for the pastry dough as it has just the right amount of flour to create a tender tart crust. Cake flour has a lower protein content and would cause the shells to fall apart, whereas bread flour contains too much protein and lacks tenderness.
Almond flour serves as the nut choice for this filling. It has a mild flavor that won’t overpower other flavors. Compared to other nuts, almonds have the highest water absorption ability, which translates to a filling that will stay moist longer.
Asian pears are often referred to as apple pears. However, they are not a cross between apples and pears. They are more closely related to European pears. Asian pears can be eaten peeled or unpeeled and used interchangeably with apples or pears in baking recipes. Typically, their peak season is during September and October, but are often available as early as July and last until winter.
What is Pâte Brisée
Pâte Brisée is a butter-based flaky dough used for either sweet or savory pies and tarts. It's made with four simple ingredients: salt, water, butter, and all-purpose flour. It's an excellent fundamental recipe to refer to often.
How to make Pâte Brisée
Combine salt and water. In a small bowl, mix the salt and water until the salt has dissolved.
Mix butter and flour. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the softened butter and flour at low speed until evenly mixed. Do not overmix the dough because the gluten will be activated, and the tart shells will not be tender.
Add the water. Add the water to the flour mixture and continue to mix just until the dough comes together. Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap and flatten into a round disc. Cover tightly and refrigerator for at least 2 hours, or preferably overnight.
How to roll out pastry dough
When rolling out any type of pastry dough, it's not about strength but rather a smooth and gentle motion. Adding too much pressure to the dough will cause it to stick to your work surface or your rolling pin.
Line your work surface. Place a piece of parchment paper or silpat on your work surface and lightly dust with flour. Lining your surface is not required but it's easier to work with if the dough gets sticky.
Roll gently. Begin at the edge nearest to you and gently roll in one direction to the edge furthest from you. Repeat this motion twice.
Rotate. Rotate the dough a quarter turn. Check to see that the dough is not sticking to your surface, otherwise add a bit more flour. You should always be able to slide the dough on your surface.
Repeat rolling. Roll the dough another 3 times and continue the process of rotating and rolling until the desired thickness is achieved.
What is almond cream filling?
Almond cream filling, also known as crème d'amande, is a delicious cream filling made from almond flour, sugar, butter, flour, and a hint of vanilla. It's simple to make using just a mixer. All the ingredients are added and mixed to create this delicious cream. It can complement various desserts, most commonly tarts, but can also be used in other sweets such as cakes and pies.
Often the term frangipane is used interchangeably with almond cream. However, in French pastries, true crème frangipane is made by combining almond cream filling with pastry cream for a rich and delicious filling.
Make-ahead almond cream
Almond cream can be made up to 2 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Once you fill the pastry shells with the mixture and pears, bake them within 1 hour, otherwise, your crust will become soggy.
What type of tart pans should you use?
Tart pans come in all different shapes and sizes. I recommend using six 3-inch round tart rings for this recipe. They are simple to line with the dough and easy to remove after being baked. If you do not have tart rings, you can use 3-inch tart pans (with or without removable bottoms). Additionally, if you do not have enough tart rings or pans, you can make the pastry shells in batches before preparing the filling.
Tips and takeaways
- When rolling your pastry dough, work briskly so that the dough doesn't warm and become sticky. If this does happen, pop your dough into the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes to cool down and then continue the process.
- Once your tart shells are pre-baked and cooled, use a Microplane to shave the shells' tops to smooth any uneven edges and create a uniform height all around.
- If Asian pears are not in season, you can substitute with apples or pears. During the summer months, stonefruit would be delicious in this tart recipe.
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