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I must admit that I am a few cups of good cheer short of the holiday spirit this year. With our pending homestead move and continued renovation woes – I just don’t have it “in” me to deck the halls with boughs of holly and fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la (is that enough or too many “la’s”?). Because the aforementioned halls currently serve as staging areas and are filling with boxes in preparation for the move. My husband keeps reminding me that we still must make the holidays a magical experience for at least the littlest of our littles. That our home stills needs a marvelous tree bedecked with lights. That the smells of Christmas cookies need to soon waft from the oven. And that I have some Douglas fir business to attend to.
It seems that I have created a forage-y tradition of Douglas fir goodies each holiday season. This Douglas fir shortbread cookie post was the first time many of you saw my blog. Last year’s Douglas fir-infused eggnog thrilled my family. This year I want to pull out all the stops and make something really spectacular – even if my “merry and bright” is noticeably dim.
Behold a Douglas Fir Poached Pear & Frangipane Tart.
To be honest, this tart looks a little harder to make than it actually was (shhh). Never fear the seemingly long recipe below.
With the help of a food processor, both the tart crust and the frangipane come together quite quickly. Not familiar with frangipane? Frangipane is an almond pastry cream – and it is really delightful stuff. I do find most frangipane toothachingly sweet so I backed off the sugar quotient ever so slightly for the sake of this recipe. Poaching the pears in Douglas fir and cinnamon infused syrup takes no special skill other than being able to identify the ubiquitous tree of the Pacific Northwest (any other edible conifer can be substituted). And although the slicing of the poached pears and arranging them atop the frangipane took a little care and finesse, it really came together easily. I even took the extra step of reducing the Douglas poaching syrup to brush the tart after it came out of the oven resulting in a candy-like sheen atop each pear slice.
Easy. And so delicious.
The result is just what I desired. Something imaginative and foraged. Something unexpected and whimsical. This Douglas fir Poached Pear & Frangipane Tart might not expedite my renovations or release the burden of the pending move, but it will make my families Christmas a little sweeter this year.
Douglas Fir Poached Pear & Frangipane Tart
This Douglas Fir Poached Pear & Frangipane Tart is foraged treasure. Sweet, spiced, with the subtle balsamic of evergreen, this tart is stupendous! The pears can be poached and the frangipane prepared while the crust is baking.
- 1 1/4 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoon organic sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 10 tablespoons cold butter cut into cubes
- 3 tablespoons cold water
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 1/2 cups blanched, slivered almonds ground to a fine meal
- 1/4 cup organic sugar
- 2 eggs slightly beaten
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 tablespoon browned butter
Douglas Fir Poached Pears
- 2 large pears, peeled and left whole (Bosc pears work nicely here)
- 2 cups organic sugar
- 4 cups water
- 1/2 cup Douglas fir needles (another edible evergreen can be substituted)
- 1 cinnamon stick
Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F).
In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add the cubed butter, water, and almond extract. Pulse food processor until the mixture resembles coarse wet sand. Using the back of a large spoon, press dough firmly into the bottom and up the sides of a tart pan with a removable bottom like this one. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes.
Line the crust with the parchment or aluminum foil and place pie weights, beans, or rice atop the paper/foil to help the crust hold its shape during baking. Place tart pan on a baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, peak underneath the foil. If the crust appears somewhat dry, it is done, if not let it bake for another five minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least five minutes before removing the pie weight. Cool while you are preparing the poached pears and frangipane filling.
In a small saucepan, brown the butter over medium heat just until it becomes golden brown and aromatic. Set aside.
In a food processor, combine ground almonds, sugar, eggs, and almond extract until well combines. With the processor running, slowly pour the browned butter into the mixture. Set aside.
Douglas Fir Poached Pears
In a medium saucepan add the whole, peeled pears, water, sugar, Douglas fir needles, and cinnamon stick. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer for about 20 minutes, or until you pierce the blossom end of the pear easily with a paring knife. Remove from heat.
Remove pear and place on cutting board, cleaning them of needles. Strain the syrup of the needles and return to the saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until the syrup is reduced to two cups. Set aside.
Once the pears are cool enough to handle, halve them lengthwise and scoop out the seeds and core with a small spoon. Trim the blossom and stem end, then slice the pears crosswise into approximate 1/8/-1/4 inch wedges, keeping the form of the pear intact.
Pour the frangipane cream into the prepared pastry crust, smoothing it out evenly. Carefully lift pears, and place into frangipane filing with the stem ends pointing toward the center, and ever so slightly "fanning" the slices.
Bake in a 375degree oven for 40-45 minutes, rotating the pan to ensure even browning. When the frangipane is evenly golden, remove from oven. Using a pastry brush, brush pears with reserved Douglas fir syrup. Cool completely.
To serve, remove the tart from the tart form. Brush with more warmed Douglas fir syrup if desired, slice and serve.