Every year for Christmas I like to make a dessert, I really don't like Christmas pudding, cake or mince pies. For a few years I used to make a trifle, last year I made a ginger cake and this year my Mum suggested I make a pear and almond tart. I have never made a tart before and I have to say I was quite happy with the way it turned out. As you can see it looks home made but I like the 'rustic' look. I googled a few recipes and this one seemed fairly easy and it did taste pretty good.
For the pears.. 1 vanilla pod (split), 1 cinnamon stick or half a teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 250g caster sugar, 4 pears peeled, halved and cored.
Pour 300ml of water into a large pan and add the vanilla pod, cinnamon stick and sugar. Bring to the boil, then add the pears and simmer them for 20 minutes. Leave to cool then chop into slices.
For the pastry.. 130g plain flour and extra for dusting, 80g unsalted butter, cut into cubes and left to soften. 30g sugar, 1 egg yolk.
Sift the flour and a pinch of salt, place them on the work surface and make a well in the centre. Add the butter and sugar and gently work together with your fingertips. Add the egg yolk and gradually fold in the flour, adding a few drops of water as you go. When all the flour has been added, shape the dough into a ball but do not overwork it. Wrap the pastry in cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using.
For the almond cream.. 125g softened unsalted butter, 125g caster sugar, 125g ground almonds, 3 medium eggs, 2 tablespoons of rum.
Mix the butter and sugar until pale, then add the ground almonds. Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, and finally the rum.
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a thickness of about 3mm and use it to line a greased 28cm flan tin. Prick the pastry base with a fork, line it with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans (or rice/pasta), then bake blind for 20 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and put the pastry back into the oven for another 5 minutes or until the base has cooked but not taken on too much colour. Spoon the almond cream into the tart base, then arrange the sliced, drained pears on top. Bake in the preheated oven for 40 minutes.
I served the tart warm with some almond flakes and vanilla ice cream. Depending on your tastes you can add custard, jam or anything you fancy.