Winter Pear and Hazelnut Tart
Place the whole wheat and all purpose flour into the bowl of a food processor. Add ground hazelnuts, sugar, and salt. Mix with a quick pulse to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse until it’s the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the egg and continue to pulse until it begins to come together. Add only enough water for the dough to come together, being careful not to add too much in order to avoid sticky pastry.
Remove the dough from the food processor and flatten into a disc. Cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, about 1 hour.
The pastry shell
Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter a fluted 9.5” tart pan. Roll out the chilled pastry on a lightly floured surface to a circle a bit wider than the pie dish. Transfer it to the tart pan and carefully nudge the pastry into the fluted spaces around the pan. Trim off any excess pastry being mindful to leave just a bit above the edge to account for shrinkage during baking. Chill through, about 30 minutes.
Prepare the filling while the crust is chilling
In a food processor, pulse together the hazelnuts and 2 Tablespoons of the sugar until finely ground. Add the flour, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg and pulse just to incorporate. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream the butter and remaining sugar until fluffy and pale in color. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract gently and then stir in the nut mixture until incorporated.
Remove the pastry from the refrigerator and line it with baking parchment and pastry weights/beans. Bake for 10-15 minutes, just until the edges begin to turn a golden color and the pastry is opaque. Remove the parchment and continue to bake another few minutes, until the interior of the shell is set. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
Once cooled, spread the filling evenly into the tart shell. Peel (optional), quarter (lengthwise) and core the pears. Then, slice them horizontally. Sprinkle with lemon juice. Arrange the sliced pears decoratively on top of the filling leaving space to sprinkle in the halved hazelnuts, pressing them lightly into the filling.
Bake until the pears are golden and the filling is puffed and golden brown, about 30-40 minutes. When you remove it from the oven, sprinkle with the maple sugar. Allow to cool until set and serve warm.
In Your Glass
This tart invites some fun wine exploration. A white dessert wine from Germany or Austria comes easily to mind as I contemplate the tart’s pears and hazelnuts. If you can find it, there is a delightful wine called Ruster Ausbruch, from the little Austrian town of Rust (pronounced “roost”) with wonderful floral aromas and full of flavors reminiscent of honey, spice and vanilla. And of course another can’t-miss possibility, and perhaps a bit easier to come by, is Shafer’s own Cabernet Sauvignon dessert wine, Firebreak.