Seckel Pear Tart
shopping tip :
Diminutive Seckel pears (introduced in Pennsylvania in the 17th century) have a sweet, spicy taste. They have firm flesh and hold their shape, which makes them a good baking pear.
Mace has intense nutmeg overtones (it is derived from the outer membrane of nutmeg) and marries beautifully with pears for an unforgettable holiday dessert. This tart is literally easier than pie because you simply fold over the crust.
• 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1-1/2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 teaspoon ground mace
• 1/3 cup shortening
• 4 to 5 tablespoons ice water
• 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted and finely chopped
• 8 Seckel pears or 4 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges (about 4 cups)
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
• 2 teaspoons finely shredded lemon peel
• 1/2 teaspoon ground mace
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 1 egg white
• 1 tablespoon water
• Spiced Whipped Cream
Line large baking sheet with foil; set aside. For crust: In medium bowl, stir together the 1 1/4 cups flour, the 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon peel, the salt, and the 1/4 teaspoon mace. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until pieces are pea-size. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon ice water over part of flour mixture; gently toss with fork. Push moistened dough to side of bowl. Repeat moistening flour mixture, using 1 tablespoon of remaining ice water at a time, until all flour mixture is moistened. Form dough into ball. On lightly floured surface, use your hands to slightly flatten dough. Roll dough from center to edge into circle about 13 inches in diameter. Transfer dough circle to prepared baking sheet.
Preheat oven to 375°F. For filling, spread almonds on dough circle to within 2 inches of edge. Place pears in large bowl. In small bowl, combine the 1/2 cup sugar, 4 teaspoons flour, 2 teaspoons lemon peel, and 1/2 teaspoon mace. Toss half of sugar mixture with pears. Mound pear mixture on top of almond-covered dough. Sprinkle remaining sugar mixture over pear mixture. Dot with butter.
Fold dough edge up and over pears, pleating dough gently as needed. In small bowl, combine egg white and 1 tablespoon water; beat with fork. Brush mixture onto top and side of dough. Sprinkle with additional sugar.
Bake about 45 minutes or until filling is bubbly, pears are tender, and pastry is golden. If necessary to prevent overbrowning, cover edge with foil for last 5 to 10 minutes of baking. Cool on baking sheet for 30 minutes. Serve warm. Serve with Spiced Whipped Cream. Makes 8 servings.
Spiced Whipped Cream:
In chilled small bowl, combine 1/2 cup whipping cream, 1 tablespoon sugar, and dash ground mace. Beat with chilled beaters of an electric mixer on medium speed until soft peaks form (tips curl).