One year when Fabien’s Mom came to visit from France, she wanted to make a Tomato Mozzarella Tart and asked me to provide her with my tart pan. I happily handed her an 8-inch glass pie pan. She looked at it, and then at me, and said that it wasn’t adequate and she needed something wider and more shallow.
I went back to the cabinets and found another, wider version of a ceramic casserole pan. She looked at it again, then at me, and explained that too, was not at all what she was looking for. She went into greater detail this time and said it needed to not only be more wide and shallow, it’s generally fluted with a removable bottom. I confessed that I didn’t have one. Ahem, this was long before ABeeBakes.
And so off we went to Target. When we got there, nothing. Only classic American pyrex pans. And then we went to nearby Walmart, again nothing. It was too late at night for anything else to be open aside from the grocery store, which again had nothing.
The following day we went to Williams Sonoma and voilà. We found the exact tart mold she was looking for. She said it was a crime not to have one because it’s so versatile. It can be used for quiches, sweet tarts, savory tarts, and pies. And she explained that the reason the bottom is so thin is so that the tart can cook evenly and there won’t be any soggy bottom to whatever you bake, as there would likely be in a classic pie pan. Also, the removable bottom is just so much easier when it comes to plating and serving.
I believe this was the first real dessert I made all those years ago with my new tart pan.
It’s definitely not the easiest tart to make, simply because you have to have patience while both the sweet pastry crust and the almond filling chill. And then again when it comes out of the oven and cools, because the cooler it is, the cleaner it will slice.
If patience is your thing, and you love the combination of pear and almond (frangipane) then this really is an exquisite tart. It’s very sophisticated in flavor, highlighting the pear above all, and very subtle in sweet. If you’re looking for something a little lighter to serve as dessert over the holidays, this is a great option. It’s clearly not a diet dessert but it’s not overly rich or sweet so it’s welcomed after a large meal because it won’t weigh you down.
If you’re looking for a quick fix, try this Tarte aux Pommes (French Apple Tart).