With the holidays coming up around the corner, it's a good time to start baking. I was feeling rather gourmande the other day when deciding what to make. Instead of going with one, I opted to combine all three of my cravings; fruit, nuts and of course, chocolate. #Noregrets. It came out delicious and satisfied every one of my taste buds. Yes, every single one.
Chocolatey Pear and Almond Pie Recipe
For the crust...
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 sticks cold butter
1/2 cup ice cold water
A few sprinkles of salt (skip if using salted butter)
For the pear filling...
3-4 ripe but firm pears
1 stick of cinnamon
The juice of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup sugar
For the almond filling...
2/3 cup almond meal
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 stick butter (room temperature)
For a little something extra...
1 handful loosely chopped semi sweet chocolate pieces
Start by making a crust. If you have an a standup mixer, now would be a good time to use it, but only with the paddle attachment. Otherwise, work the dough by hand, every so gently and swiftly. Chop the cold butter up into 1/4 inch cubes. It doesn't need to be uniform, in fact it's better if it is not. Mix salt into flour, if needed. Work the butter into the flour, using only your finger tips, or with a mixer at medium speed, for only a minute. It's perfectly fine to still have some little lumps of butter (the best kind of lumps). Then add ice cold water, a little bit at a time, just until the dough starts to clump but is not sticky (sticky = too much water, not clumping = too dry). If using a mixer, add the water in dribbles down the side while on a low speed over the course of 1minute. Take the dough out and form it loosely into a ball. Put that ball into a plastic bag or plastic wrap. Flatten the ball out into a disk using a rolling pin. Just give it one or two rolls and then pinch together any cracks. Place the dough in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
While your dough is chilling, peel your pears and bring six cups of water to a boil with the lemon juice, sugar and cinnamon stick. I digress but if you are in need of a peeler, I highly recommend this set made by OXO. I just bought it a few weeks ago after mine had broken. I've already used all three peelers and it kind of makes me feel like the eagle scout of peeling. Place the peeled pears into the poaching liquid once it begins to boil. Let it cook for 30 minutes.
Next prepare the almond filling by mixing together the almond meal and sugar in a food processor (or substitute with a hand blender if needed). Once it has been pulverized into a soft powder, add the flour, eggs, vanilla and butter. Continue to process the mixture until it becomes uniform and smooth.
By this time I imagine your dough should be sufficiently chilled (1 hour) and your pears poached (30 minutes). Remove the pears from the poaching liquid and set on a cutting board to cool. Meanwhile, prepare a space to work on the crust by dusting generously with flour. Take the dough out of the bag, give it a dusting, and roll it, working outward from the center, never towards it. Continue to pinch up any cracks you see. Flip it over and give the other side a rolling, working it into ~1/4 inch thick sheet that is several inches wider than the dish you'll bake it in.
Lift the dough by folding it over the rolling pin and lifting. Pat off the extra flour and place into your dish, shaping the dough around the curves of the dish. Work the edges into a nice pattern by pinching the dough up. This was done very free form but if want to up your game Food52 recently posted this great article on different techniques. For a shiny finish, you can brush the crust melted butter or mixture of apricot jam and water.
Pour the almond mixture into the shell. If the pears have cooled enough to be held, slice them in half and core them, then cut in half again slice into 1/4 inch thick pieces. Arrange them in a circular pattern, like a fan. Next, if you so dare, arrange chocolate chunks into a nice little pattern on top. Bake for 40-45 minutes on the bottom rack (or until browned) at 350°F.
Serve warm with steaming cups of peppermint tea.