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Italian New Year's - Pear and Almond Crostata

Author/Submitted by: Alan Tardi and Karen Bussen, Follonico, NYC.
Servings: 12
Categories: Chocolate / Desserts

1/2  cup  butter, softened
1/4  cup  granulated sugar
1  large  egg yolk
2 1/2  cups  all-purpose flour, unsifted
1/8  teaspoon  salt
4  large  ripe pears, peeled and cored
2  tablespoons  pear brandy
3  large  eggs
1/4  cup  almond paste
2  tablespoons  granulated sugar
1/2  cup  all-purpose flour, unsifted
1/2  cup  heavy cream
    chocolate sauce:
4  ounces  bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1  tablespoon  butter
1  tablespoon  heavy cream
    optional ingredient:
2  tablespoons  confectioners' sugar

Several hours or the day before serving prepare Pastry: In medium-size bowl, with electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter and granulated sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in yolk until well mixed. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually beat in flour and salt. Gather dough into a ball, flatten to a 5" round and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate pastry at least one hour or overnight. When pastry has chilled, between 2 sheets of floured waxed paper, roll out to a 13" round. Remove top paper and invert pastry into 11" tart pan with removable bottom, allowing excess to extend over edge. Remove remaining sheet of waxed paper. Fold excess pastry inside so that it is even around top edge with rim of pan; press pastry against the side to make an even thickness. Wrap and refrigerate pastry crust until ready to bake (no longer than 24 hours). Heat oven to 350F. Prepare Filling: Cut pears lengthwise into 1" thick slices. In medium size bowl, combine pears and brandy. In another medium bowl, with electric mixer on medium speed, beat eggs, almond paste and granulated sugar until well mixed. Beat in flour and cream until smooth. Arrange pear slices spoke fashion in chilled pastry crust. Place several slices in center. Add any brandy remaining in bowl to egg mixture and pour over pears. Bake tart 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack. Up to 30 minutes before serving prepare Chocolate Sauce: In top of double boiler over hot not boiling water, heat chocolate and butter until melted. Remove from heat and stir in cream until smooth mixture forms. Keep warm in double boiler over hot water. Just before serving pour sauce into pitcher. To serve, remove rim from tart pan and place tart on serving plate. Sift confectioners' sugar around edge of tart, if desired. Cut tart into 12 wedges and serve with chocolate sauce. Store any leftovers in refrigerator. Country Living January 1998, page 108.

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