Editor's Note: Margaret M. Johnson is the author of seven Irish cookbooks, most recently,”Flavors of Ireland.” Coming soon, “Christmas Flavors of Ireland.”
There are over 3,000 known pear varieties grown around the world, each with a distinctive character, texture, and flavor. The most popular and recognizable pears are the yellow Bartlett, with a true pear shape, followed by the elegant, egg-shaped Anjou, (also called d’Anjou), the graceful Bosc, pudgy Comice, and tiniest Forelle. Crisp, crunchy, and sweet, U.S.-grown pears are harvested from the middle of August through the end of November and can be used in recipes from breakfast to dessert. They’re also great for snacking, as an addition to a salad, or partnered with a smooth blue cheese with a glass of wine. This homespun pear and almond pie is made with almond cream, also known as “frangipane,” a filling that was invented some time around 1600. The pears are peeled, cored, sliced, and arranged in a circular fashion over the filling to create a pretty-as-a-picture dessert. You can use refrigerated pie dough for this less involved version and bake it in a 9-inch pie plate, or use homemade pastry and bake it in a 10-inch tart pan (pictured above).
Pear and Almond Pie
- 1 refrigerated pie crust
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 cup finely ground almonds plus more for sprinkling
- 2 teaspoons flour
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 3 firm-ripe Bartlett or Anjou pears, peeled, cored, halved, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- Confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Let crust stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes. Unroll and place in ungreased 9-in. pie pan. Press firmly against sides and bottom and prick with a fork. Pinch crust to create a fluted edge. Bake for 11-13 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool before filling.
2. To make the filling, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium speed. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, and then beat in the almonds, flour, vanilla extract, and almond extract. Pour the filling into the prepared crust.
3. Starting in the center, arrange the pear slices in concentric circles over the filling. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the filling is puffed and browned and the pears are tender.4. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Sprinkle with remaining ground almonds and confectioners’ sugar before cutting into slices.