Almond Pear Tart and Other Thanksgiving Pies

Top-down image of an almond tart with whole sliced pears baked into it

Jordan: Well, here we are. Another Pie Month has come and gone before we knew it.

Kitra: *quiet sobs heard throughout the town square*

Look, we know that giving you a bunch of pie recipes after Thanksgiving seems counterintuitive, but hopefully last week reminded you how much you love pie.

Plus it’s never too early to start thinking about next year’s pies! (pies! Pies! Pies! PIES!)

We may put pies front and center in November, but there’s never a wrong time for pies. These pies are just as delicious on December 1 as they are on November 30.

Christmas pie! Guy Fawkes Day Pie! Arbor Day pie! Tuesday pie! Birthday pie! Bored pie! Feelings pie! Tired pie! Wired pie! Galaxy brain pie! Wednesday pie (like Tuesday pie, the sequel)! Pie is good for every day ever and I will fight you.

“Pie is good for every day ever and I will fight you”: The true meaning of Pie Month.

Also, a likely first line of my obituary for when someone takes me up on that challenge.

It’s fine, just throw a pie at them and run.

Street fight pie! There! Is! A! Pie! For! Every! Occasion!

Before Kitra uses up our weekly allotment of exclamation marks, let’s talk about these pies in particular.

Okay sure. So, generally we make many pies for not many people and this year was no different. Except technically I made these all myself and 3/10 would not recommend the dishes. 12/10 would recommend the pies.

We did a virtual Thanksgiving, so Kitra made three pies, our mom and I made a bunch of non-pie food, and then we swapped portions of each and ate it all while on a Google Meet call. While I was quite pleased with my mashed potatoes, the pies were (as usual) the highlight.

Also, the primary leftover. I’ve eaten pie 2-3 times a day for 3 days now.

Same here, no ragrets.

Breakfast: Cranberry orange pie. It’s got fruit and dairy, isn’t too sweet, and doesn’t make me want to take a nap after. Lunch: Apple butterscotch pie. Fruit! Pudding! What else do I need to say, it’s like the lunchbox of dreams. Dessert: Almond pear tart. Sweet, classy, makes me sleepy.

I have eaten all three at all times of day with no complaint, but the cranberry orange one does indeed make quite a nice breakfast.

The great thing about making lots of pies that are all very good? You can enjoy them in different ways and to different degrees. There’s no pie here I wouldn’t eat again but I think my ranking goes cranberry, apple, pear.

Let’s say you, for some reason, only want to make one pie. Maybe three crusts, two cooked fruit fillings, a cheesecake filling, poached pears, frangipane, a pudding, and whipped cream sounds like a project for someone incredibly brave or incredibly foolish.

(I was both of those people. Brave about the horrors I was going to put my hands through washing that many dishes, foolish because I forgot to put on shoes or otherwise make standing on tile for 12 hours hurt less.)

If that’s the case, which pie should you pick? Well, the cranberry orange is bright and spunky, but balanced. It has a crumb crust (my favorite kind of crust) made of Biscoff. It contains multitudes.

If you’re the type of person who likes the idea of pie but gets hung up on the overwhelming sweetness, this is for you! (Jordan has suggested that I assign these astrological profiles, which is something I know very little about and am doing only based on gut feeling. So, Aries, I guess.)

The apple butterscotch is sweet, but not cloying. Imagine a very thin apple pie, with a layer of perfect butterscotch pudding and just-barely-sweetened whipped cream. This is your smooth, dreamy pie.

If you are the type of person who loves fruit and custard pies equally, and also is a little extra, make this one! (Gemini, clearly. Even I know that.)

Finally, the almond pear tart. A soft cookie-like crust, tender almond filling, and lovely poached pears. It’s subdued, but delicious. It feels very French and elegant.

If you’re the type of person who really likes steps, is well-organized, and loves amazing smelling kitchens—or just really likes almonds or the French—come collect your pie! This pie is a Virgo and I feel pretty good about that one. (I am a Apple Butterscotch moon and Pear Tart rising.)

We’ve written up the almond pear tart below. The other two are both from The Book on Pie, Kitra’s new favorite cookbook (and the source of the cheesecake pie we shared earlier this month). You can find the apple butterscotch pie recipe on Cloudy Kitchen and the cranberry orange pie was reprinted by Wisconsin Public Radio. We used a Biscoff/speculoos cookie crumb crust for the cranberry orange pie instead of a standard pie crust.

Though pie month is technically over, it’s always pie month in my heart and in my kitchen.

Three large slices of pie arranged on a plate like a literal pie chart.

Almond Pear Tart

From Zoë Bakes

Notes

There are a lot of steps to this recipe. Fortunately, you can make all of the component parts in advance; the crust, frangipane, and pears will all keep well in the fridge for a couple of days. The tart itself can also be made in advance and is just as good after a day or two or three.

Crust

Ingredients

  • 2 ⅓ cups (300g) all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup (90g) powdered sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons (200g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons water

In a food processor, combine flour, sugar, and salt. Add butter and combine until the mixture is sandy and the butter is very well cut in. Add egg yolk and pulse to combine. Add water, and pulse to bring together the dough, adding 1tsp extra water if needed.

Dump dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and form into a ball. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. Once dough has been chilled, roll it into a circle a few inches larger than your tart pan. Place the dough in pan, and cut any excess from the top. Press extra dough into the pan where needed.

Freeze the tart shell for 15 minutes while you preheat the oven to 400°. Line the crust with parchment and fill with the pie weight of your choice (beans, sugar, or actual pie weights). Bake the crust for 20 minutes, then remove the weights and parchment and return to the oven for another 5 minutes until just starting to turn golden. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Frangipane

Ingredients

  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon, 4.5oz) unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (125g) sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • 125g almond flour
  • ¼ cup (30g) flour

Directions

Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. (You can also do this in the food processor if you’d rather!) Add eggs one at a time, beating well and scraping the bowl after each addition. Add almond extract and mix to combine, then add the almond flour and beat until fluffy. Add flour and mix to combine. Store in the fridge if not using immediately.

Poached pears

Ingredients

  • 5 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons black tea leaves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 5 whole cloves
  • 5 cardamom pods, lightly cracked
  • 3 whole star anise
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, sliced
  • 1 cup (100g) sugar
  • 4 small firm pears, peeled and cored

Directions

Bring the water, tea, and spices to a simmer in a large pot. Simmer for 10 minutes, then cover and let steep for 30 minutes (or longer if you want a stronger flavor). Strain the liquid and discard the tea leaves and spices.

Return the liquid to the pot, add the sugar, and bring to a simmer again. Add the pears and simmer on low, turning occasionally, for 45 minutes to 2 hours, until you can easily insert a skewer into the center of the pear. (Softer pears will take less time, firmer ones will take longer.) Remove pears from their liquid and allow to cool. If you’re making these a day or two ahead, wrap each pear individually in plastic wrap and store in a container in the fridge.

Assembly and Baking

Ingredients

  • ½ cup (60g) chopped toasted almonds
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°. Spoon all of the frangipane into the crust and smooth it out to the edges. Slice the pears in half, then into slices lengthwise; try your best to keep each half together. Lay as many pear halves as you can fit on top of the frangipane. (You may not use them all.) Sprinkle almonds over any exposed frangipane, and sprinkle sugar over the whole thing. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the frangipane is puffed and golden. Cool completely before serving.

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