I didn’t even know how to pronounce it, let alone know what it was but on the glossy pages of the cookbook it looked beautiful, was seasonal and once I figured out that frangipane was a filling made with almonds, butter, sugar and rum – well what’s not to love about that?
But don’t confuse frangipane with marzipan. The former is more of a cream which is spreadable and used primarily to fill pastries while marzipan is its much stiffer candy relative.
A tad more research uncovered that frangipane is a traditional food associated with Christmas in France so not only was it delicious, it was timely. And who knows – just maybe it will be making a repeat appearance this Christmas Eve!
Poached Pear and Frangipane Tart
From Whitewater Cooks at Home
1/8 cup sour cream (I used Greek yogurt)
1/8 cup ice water
1/2 cup flour
2 Tbsp plus 2 tsp cornmeal
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup cold butter cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups white wine
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
zest of 1 lemon
3 whole firm but ripe pears, peeled with stems on
1/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup almonds, toasted and coarsely ground
1 1/2 Tbsp dark rum or brandy (or 1/2 Tbsp vanilla extract)
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/2 Tbsp flour
For cornmeal dough:
Stir the sour cream and ice water together in a small bowl. Put the flour, cornmeal and salt in a mixing bowl and stir with a whisk.
Add the cold butter and work it into the dry ingredients with a pastry blender or your fingers, till you have a nice crumbly mixture.
Add the sour cream mixture all at once to the dry ingredients with a fork. Your dough will form a loose ball and will probably seem too moist but just mix it together gently and form a disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge for at least two hours.
For poached pears:
Combine wine, lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon stick and lemon zest in large pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat until simmering.
Add the peeled pears and simmer gently for about 20 to 30 minutes until fork tender, turning several times by rotating the stem.
Move the pears to a bowl and pour the poaching liquid over the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
Remove pears from poaching liquid and place in a bowl. Pour the poaching liquid into a small saucepan and reduce over medium heat until syrupy.
Cut each pear in half removing stems and cores. Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, almonds, rum, almond extract and flour. Beat until smooth. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to firm up a bit.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Roll out the cornmeal dough into 11″ round on a flour-dusted surface. Place dough on a parchment paper lined baking tray.
Spread frangipane on dough in a thin layer in the middle, leaving edges free for folding around the pears.
Place the pears on the frangipane and press in gently. Make slices in the pears so that they fan open a bit. Fold the edges of the tart up and over to form small folds along the edge of the dough. Press gently to adhere.
Bake in preheated oven for 45 minutes or until pastry is golden brown and the frangipane has puffed and browned. Brush with poaching syrup glaze while they are still warm and serve.