Brandy Pear Frangipane Tart
This Pear Frangipane Tart is a French classic for autumn pears: a buttery pate sucree tart crust filled with Frangipane filling and Bosc pears soaked in brandy.Jump to Recipe
Frangipane, a Red Hook History
In the summer of 2007, I moved into Red Hook, Brooklyn from nearby Carroll Gardens. My father had passed away from a sudden heart attack just months before, and my best friend and I were ready to find a place where we could be let alone from the high traffic of typical city life, and people, and perhaps find a place where we might have a sense of privacy, even from each other–a joined loft, with two bathrooms.
It was better than we could have imagined. Our soon to be landlord showed us (along with our coked up, young female real estate agent who partied more than she cared whether we paid her the real estate fee in full), a set of two apartments in Red Hook, two floors above what was then The Liberty Heights Tap Room on Van Dyke Street.
Home Sweet Home
I had been a little leary to move so far from the train, and wasn’t yet a bus taking dweller of cities. However, my friend assured me that we would soon come to appreciate the feeling of “leaving” the city every day after work, and staying in our Brooklyn neighborhood over the weekend. She was right. At this vulnerable precipice in my life, it was ideal.
Our apartment had been two apartments that the landlord was in the process of completely gutting and renovating. It consisted of two equal “sides,” except that what became my friend’s side held the kitchen, and my side had more open space for a dining area. She wanted to see the city from her window and I wanted to see the waterfront. We both got our wish if you arched your head a certain way when looking out the window.
The apartments were joined by a pocket door in the middle. Each of us had our own front door, and our own working brick fireplace. My friend moved out less than two years later when she moved in with her Red Hook boyfriend. I had an interim roommate who ran off to live in Portugal and a long term friend of a friend who stayed for over seven years. We had a total of six cats, some staggered. I lived there for a total of 10 years and three months. It was a time I will never forget.
Home Sweet Home
The street was packed when the bar, which became Rocky Sullivans, would have throngs of patrons and a band playing on weekends. From the other side of the apartment, you could hear the drunks out back, and from my side, hear them drunkenly staggering off, or into a cab, or arguing about being able to drive home. However, in the dead of winter, along Van Dyke Street with the one tree outside my window that I ordered be planted from the city, it could be empty. The bus would roll on by semi regularly, or the sounds of foghorns might fill the air on a rainy day. On Thanksgiving and Christmas, it was delightfully desolate. Hardly a parked car, and only me and the street cats. That was Red Hook, before the rich decided to make it their playground.
I had gone to the Fairway Supermarket on Van Brunt Street, not five minutes away, when we first looked at the soon to be completed apartment during summer. It was directly on the water, and I remember eating the fresh peaches and standing along the rocky edges, and looking out over the erratic waves. I felt more at home than ever, and Fairway became my happy place, where I could slowly absorb its many aisles, secret short cuts, and double doses of certain products (the “good pasta” and the “regular pasta”).
It was there at Fairway, in the bakery section, where I ate what I remember as my first almond croissant. I always chose plain or chocolate, but once I tasted the almond paste like filling in the soft layers of buttery croissant, I fell head over heels. It was difficult to not pick one up every time I was shopping.
About a year before I left, Fairway did the unthinkable and changed the almond croissant. It was more like a turnover now, or a danish. Not a proper croissant. Then, they decided to have both the danish style and the turnover style. Also, they replaced the sticky sweet almond paste with a frangipane cream. I admit I missed the consistency of the original croissants, but the frangipane cream was delicious, and alien to me.
Just as I had become obsessed with Red Hook, Fairway, and almond croissants, I became obsessive about Frangipane. The word was even beautiful to me. I luckily learned that much of the flavor profiles in Croatian baking incorporated almond often; the influences from Venetian, Italian, French, and Austrio-Hungarian cultures did that.
Frangipane, My Love
Frangipane was Italian, I learned. Frangipani, really. It was rumoured that St. Francis received almond centric sweets on his death bed, and that a 16th century nobleman called Marquis Muzio Frangipani had wowed the aristocracy with an almond scented glove. He was said to have decided to branch out into baked goods of an almond variety to keep the good feeling going.
Not entirely unlike Choux, Frangipane is a sweet almond cream, made with sugar, butter, almond flour, eggs, and additional almond flavoring (or rum), if added. It really is a creamier version of almond paste. The day I found out that Frangipane could be the basis of a tart, my new favorite sweets delivery vehicle, or an accompaniment to a fruit tart, I grew new obsessions to explore the depths of every combination of tart involving Frangipane.
I landed on a Pear Frangipane Tart, to start. Pears are in season in fall, and even, according to Chinese Medicine, are particularly helpful in autumn against low immunity and respiratory ailments. Why not add some Frangipane and Tart alongside the medicinal pears?
This story was my Red Hook story, where I discovered healing, friendship, beautiful isolation, a lot of grocery shopping, almond croissants, and baking in a renovated kitchen. Love is only real when shared, they say, so Frangipane is at its best when shared with you.
Please enjoy this recipe I cobbled together, of a Frangipane Tart with Brandy Poached Pears. The result is a tart made from a beautiful biscuit-like dough, some creamy Frangipane that bakes into a cake-like an almond dream, dressed with deliciously soft pears that carry with them the taste of brandy, vanilla, lemon, cinnamon, and cloves. Here’s to living at the end of the line, with delicious treats at your fingertips all the time!
Enjoy this beautiful fall representation of my almond obsessed time in Red Hook, Brooklyn. My quasi French Turk guy made sure to text me his approval (I was fast asleep) after trying the tart late into the night, once he was home from work. He said it tasted like his (French summers) childhood. I consider that a great first effort and you can do it too.
Brandy Soaked Pears
- 6 Bosc Pears
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups brandy
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 2 lemon peels
- Juice of half a lemon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 cloves
- In saucepan, combine ingredients except pears. Bring to a boil, stir, and reduce to a simmer.
- Wash and dry the pears. Peel, while keeping the pear whole. Add pears to saucepan and cover,cooking at a medium heat for about 15-20 minutes. Pears should seem soft, but not mushy.
- Remove pears and set aside. Increase heat to medium high and cook liquid uncovered until thickened for another 5 minutes. Pour liquid over the pears and let sit until ready to use for the tart.
Pate Sucree Tart Crust
- 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- ⅓ cups granulated sugar
- ¼ tbsp salt
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- Butter a 10 inch tart pan and set aside. In food processor or by hand, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and lemon zest. Pulse about ten times.
- Add butter and pulse until mix is uniform and butter is pea sized. Add in egg yolk and vanilla and pulse until just incorporated. Refrigerate for an hour (I froze for just over 30 minutes.)
- Knead dough on flat surface. Press dough into tart pan until 1/4 inch thick. Make sure to press dough into the grooves of the pan and level out the dough thickness throughout the base.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Add pie weights/beans to the tart on top of parchment paper or aluminum foil. I felt my outer edges got a little dark,so you might want to cover the edges with additional foil to prevent over-darkening.
- Bake for 20 minutes, remove the weights, and bake an additional 10-15 minutes, but watch the tart for the right level of golden color. It should dry out, ideally. Set aside to cool.
Pear Frangipane Tart
- 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup almond flour
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ lemon zest
- 1 tbsp dark rum
- You can mix the Frangipane by hand easily, or with an electric/hand mixer. Combine butter and sugar and beat until creamy.
- Lower speed, and add almond flour, followed by one egg, followed by almond flour, one egg, and one last round of almond flour and a one egg, making sure to incorporate every time.
- Add additional flour and then add vanilla, lemon zest,and rum (dark preferably). Once combined, do not over mix.
- Assembling the Tart: Take 3-4 of the best pears and pat them dry of the excess soaking liquid. Slice each in half and carefully remove core without altering the shape. Slice horizontally across each pear and gently fan them out just a tad to lengthen (I made the mistake of doing this once the pears were on the Frangipane and they simply sunk a bit.)
- Inside the cooled tart shell, spoon in the Frangipane Cream and level off. Take the halved sliced pears and carefully lay them down in whatever formation suits you best. I did a nice five-pointed star and added a little piece of pear in the center, plus lines of flaked almonds on either side of each pear. Looking back, I would have liked to add in more pear, since some of the tart slices are pear-less (not that there is anything in the world wrong with Frangipane Tart…have you been reading my posts?)
- Bake at 375 degrees for 45-50 minutes, until the Frangipane is a deep golden brown, and the Frangipane around the pears does not look underdone. The sides will come away a bit as well. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes, before removing the sides of the tart pan. Dust with confectioners sugar if desired for additional snowflake effect.