the french pear tart (tarte bourdaloue)

pear almond tart

the classic french pear tart is one of my all time favorite tarts.  fragrant, crunchy, hearty — i really think it’s the pastry embodiment of satisfaction.

like all tarts, making the french pear tart is a multi-step process:

  1. Prepare the tart dough.  You can use pate sucree, brisee or sablee.  I used pate sucree because I had some on hand. I recommend blind baking the tart shell as it ensures a crunchier crust.  To do this, roll out the tart dough, arrange it into the tart ring, and bake at 350° F for 20 minutes.  When done, take it out of the oven and let it cool.
  2. Poach the pears.  See recipe below. A single 9 inch tart requires about 2.5 to 3 pears. Or, if you really want to take a short cut, you can use canned pear halves.  Doesn’t taste as authentic but plenty of french women opt to do so.
  3. Prepare the almond cream. See recipe below
    [Note: if you’ve got the almond cream, poached pears and tart dough on hand, you can arrange this tart in 5 minutes!]
  4. Slice and core the poached pears.  Cut each poached pear in half.  Carefully remove the core, and slice each pear horizontally into 1/4 inch slices.
  5. Arrange the tart.  Spread 250g of almond cream on the bottom of the tart.  Arrange the sliced poached pears on top of the almond cream.  It’s easiest to pick up the sliced pears using an offset spatula.  Sprinkle sliced blanched almonds to cover areas where the almond cream is showing.
  6. Finally, bake the filled tart for 45-50 minutes at 350° F until the almond cream has set.
  7. With a pastry brush, coat the pears with some apricot glaze.

Poached Pears
(enough for 2 tarts)

Pears                      6 to 8 (I use bartlett or bosc)
Sugar                      2 cups
White Wine           2 cups
Water                     2 cups
Cinnamon             1 stick
Star Anise              1 stick
Lemon                    1 lemon

  1. Peel pears, leaving them whole.  Rub lemon all over the peeled pear.
  2. Add sugar to the bottom of a pot (I use a 5 quart dutch oven).
  3. Add enough water to just cover the sugar.
  4. Boil the sugar water until the sugar just begins to turn a light golden brown.  (Watch the sugar carefully because it will easily burn)
  5. Add in remaining water, wine, cinnamon, star anise, and juice from remaining lemon.
  6. Bring the mixture to a boil and then turn heat down to a simmer.
  7. Carefully drop in the pears.  You may need to add more water to the pot until the pears are all submerged in the liquid.
  8. Allow the pears to simmer until just softened.  About 30 min to 1 hour, depending on your pears.  Do not overcook as the pears will become too mushy to work with.

Almond Cream
(adapted from the french culinary institute; enough cream for 2 tarts)

Butter                      165g @ room temperature
Sugar                       165g
Almond Flour        165g
Eggs                         2
Corn Starch           20g

  1. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  I use a paddle attachment. You may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally.
  2. Add in almond flour and continue to mix until smooth.
  3. Incorporate eggs 1 at a time.
  4. Lastly, add in corn starch.  Mix until well-combined.


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2 responses to “the french pear tart (tarte bourdaloue)

  1. This looks really good! Reminds me of Paris…But I can’t believe you haven’t made use of my mooncake molds yet!!!

  2. Pingback: tart a-palooza | a tomato in tribeca

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