A tart makes such a pretty presentation on a dessert table, especially this one, which has slices of caramelized pears on top. The skin of Bosc pear is autumn-hued in lovely shades of brown and gold, which is precisely why the pears are left unpeeled. The tart can be made in stages: the crust can be prepared in advance and frozen, and the filling can be made 1 day ahead.
To Make the Crust
Combine the hazelnuts, flour, salt and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the sour cream and water, and process for a few seconds, just until a ball of dough begins to form. Do not over process.
Transfer the dough to a floured work surface, gathering all the loose bits, and form into a disk about 1 inch thick. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 425 F. Have ready a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough into a circle about 12 inches in diameter. Dust the work surface and dough with a little more flour, as necessary, to keep the dough from sticking. Roll the dough around the rolling pin, lift it over the tart pan, and unroll the dough over the pan.
Adjust to center the dough; then press it into place. Trim the overhang to 1/2 inch and fold in to reinforce the side. Freeze the tart shell for 20 minutes. (The tart shell can be made up to this point and frozen for up to 1 month.)
Line the tart shell with foil and fill with dried beans, rice or pie weights. Bake just until the side of the pastry begins to color, about 20 minutes. Remove the weights and foil, and bake until the base of the shell is golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 400 F.
To Make the Filling
Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, stopping the machine once or twice to scrape down the sides of the work bowl. Add the egg yolk, egg, and heavy cream, and process to blend thoroughly. Scatter the ground nuts and flour over the butter mixture, and process just until blended. Refrigerate while preparing the pears. Halve and core them and cut lengthwise into 1/8-inch slices.
To Assemble the Tart
Spread the cream filling evenly over the bottom of the prepared tart shell. Arrange the pears over the filling in overlapping concentric circles, starting from the outside edge and working toward the center. Brush the pears with the pear brandy. Sprinkle the 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar over the top.
Bake the tart in the center of the oven until the pastry is brown and pears begin to caramelize, about 45 minutes. Let cool on a rack. When ready to serve, center one hand under the bottom of the tart pan and slip off the rim with the other hand. Set the tart on a round serving plate and cut into wedges. Makes one 10-inch tart; Serves 8 to 10.
Diane Morgan, The Thanksgiving Table (Chronicle Books, 2001).
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