This Pear Hazelnut Tart features everything I love about desserts: different textures with its crispy crust and very moist interior, and a little sweetness that’s perfectly balanced by the fresh fruit, and a nutty topping for extra crunch. It not only tastes incredible, it also looks stunning.
This recipe is not my invention; it’s very much inspired by the recipe of Athena Calderone, my all-time idol! She was very influential in my journey in the kitchen. I remember one summer a few years back, when I bought her cookbook and spent my entire vacation cooking her recipes. Over the years, I’ve made this Pear Hazelnut Tart a dozen times and adapted it slightly to my liking: a little less sweet, a little more creamy, and a little more nutty in the crust. I also added a citric note that combines well with the sweetness of the pears.
When you bake the crust, make sure you do not overbake it. It’s only supposed to be slightly brown as it will get super crunchy when you place it back in the oven with the filling. Also, try to find the most flavorful and ripe pears, but they should still be firm, or else you’ll end up with a mashed pear. The almond extract highlights the nuttiness of this tart, and is an extraordinary add-on. Make sure to just use a few drops of it, because its flavor is very intense and tastes artificial if overused.
I guarantee you that this tart will be loved by everyone. It never fails to impress my guests! Thank you again, Athena, for sharing such a beautiful dessert with me.
PEAR HAZELNUT TART
- For a 36 x 12 cm (15 x 5 inch) rectangular, fluted tart pan with a removable bottom, or for a 23 cm (9-inch) round tart pan with a removable bottom.
- 120 g butter melted, plus a bit more for buttering the tart pan
- 80 g of granulated sugar
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 3 drops of bitter almond extract
- ¼ tsp vanilla extract
- 150 g all-purpose flour plus more for the tart pan
- 50 g hazelnuts finely ground
- 1-2 large ripe, firm pears
- 3 tbsp lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 180 g crème fraîche
- 1 egg
- 2 tbsp honey
- 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
- 5 drops of bitter almond extract
- 1 tbsp flour
- 3 tbsp hazelnuts finely ground
- 50 g hazelnuts roughly chopped and toasted
- A little powered sugar for dusting
- Preheat the oven to 180° Celsius (356° Fahrenheit), butter the tart pan, and slightly dust it with flour.
- In a medium bowl, use a mixer to whisk together the melted butter with the granulated sugar, the sea salt, and both extracts. Add the flour and ground hazelnuts, and stir together until a soft dough forms.
- Press the dough thinly into the tart pan with a spoon or the bottom of a flat cup, and create a 4 cm (1.5 inch) high ridge around the edges. Make sure to flatten the dough firmly into the corners, then, carefully prick it all over with a fork.
- Bake the dough on the middle rack of the oven for 10 minutes until light brown, then remove. The crust might have expanded slightly while cooking. While the dough is still warm, press it back down gently with a spoon or the bottom of a flat cup, then allow it to cool completely.
- Halve and core the pears. Then, finely slice them and sprinkle them with lemon juice.
- With a mixer, whisk together the crème fraîche, egg, honey and both extracts. Mix in the flour and ground hazelnuts and beat briefly until the mixture is fluffy.
- Pour the filling into the crust, arranging the pear slices on top, and overlapping them on top of each other. Make sure to gently press the pears into the filling, to fill them up about one-third of the way. Bake the tart on the middle rack of the preheated oven at 180° Celsius (356° Fahrenheit) for about 20 minutes until the filling is set. Allow the tart to cool down slightly before removing it from the pan.
- Just before serving it, sprinkle it with roasted hazelnuts and dust some powdered sugar on top.