Pear Tartlets and the Finance Contest

Posted on January 10, 2012


First note of business: these tartlets were the grand prize winners of the Success Charter Network Finance (and COO’s) Second Annual Baking Contest, held Dec, 2011, with conviviality and good sportsmanship shown by judges and contestants alike. I will hope to have the winner of the inaugural SCN baking contest share his recipe with all of us as well.

Get your pears out, admire their rosy complexions. I recommend Bartlett for this recipe. You want mellow sweetness maximized against the flaky crusts.

(Adapted from Food and Wine)

  • 1 cup finely ground blanched almonds
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter—1 stick softened, 1 stick melted (yes, my kind of recipe–no, I did not increase this amount from the original recipe)
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling (I like raw sugar)
  • 1 large egg
  • 16 sheets phyllo, plus more in case of breakage (regular phyllo boxes come with 40 sheets–so plan for two batches–or make these delicious spinach phyllo pies with the extra sheets…)
  • 2 large Bartlett pears—peeled, cored and thinly sliced crosswise

Here’s the drill.

Put almonds and flour together in food processor, get them ground fine but not too fine (for my taste I prefer a more crunchy filling aesthetic–hence this choice and the raw sugar). Take out and put into a bowl on the side.

Put softened butter and sugar in the processor, blend away, and add egg. Then, if your processor allows, throw the almond flour back in and combine very well. If yours is small, like mine, then just do the old-fashioned spoon mix-ensuring the almond paste substance is very well combined.

Hopefully your phyllo has been out on the counter coming to room temperature. Now is also a good time to turn on the oven to 350 and prepare to make a mess.

Melt the other butter stick and use either a pastry brush or your hands (I promise the latter work much better). For those of you who are visual recipe folks I even have a few more instructive pictures in this post than I normally will, since it took me a bit of time to get the hang of how truly easy it is to do this next step.

Spread a single phyllo sheet, and lightly coat with butter all the way to edges. Then repeat 3 more times, so you have 4 sheets of phyllo buttered together happily. Then cut the portion of the rectangle to make a square, and then cut into 4 small squares. Dump some of the almond paste onto the center of each square, and then drop pear pieces onto the center of two out of the four squares. Then you’ll be stacking these babies, so you have two layers of phyllo then almond joy, with pears on top of stack. Then gently place these layers into muffin tins, tucking them in to fill the circle as best you can. Yes, it’s a square peg in a round hole effect but it’s too delicious to even think about that way. The effect will be a decorative trim of phyllo, and you can feel free to drizzle more butter on the edges…

Once you repeat the phyllo/butter/paste/pear layering enough times to use up the relevant filling ingredients, sprinkle with more raw sugar, and toss them in the oven for 40 minutes–or until perfectly golden brown.

You can store these at room temp for 4 hours, and they taste fantastic warmed up the next day-perfect for entertaining. The first time we tried the pear tartlets was for our french white wine tasting last year, so I’ll always be hankering after a potent Meresault or a smooth Riesling when biting into these.

My roommate walked in tonight while these were cooking and said “Smells like grilled cheese in here.” Whoops?

Posted in: Dessert, Pastry