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Pear Hazelnut Tart

The barley flour pastry complements the richness of the nuts both in the crust and filling. This is a fabulous spring or fall dessert, and an alternative to the ubiquitous pumpkin pie to end a holiday meal. A couple of options have been provided in the recipe.

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly grease a 9 inch (23 cm) tart pan with removable bottom.

Crust:
1 cup (250 mL) hazelnuts or almonds
1½ cups (375 mL) whole barley flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
½ tsp (2 mL) salt
¼ cup (60 mL) packed brown sugar
¼ cup (60 mL) granulated sugar
½ cup (125 mL) cold butter, cubed
¼ cup (60 mL) cold water

Filling:
2 large ripe pears
1/3 cup (75 mL) butter, softened
1/3 cup (75 mL) packed brown sugar
¼ cup (60 mL) maple syrup or packed brown sugar
2 eggs
2 Tbsp (30 mL) whole barley flour
½ tsp (2 mL) ground allspice
½ tsp (2 mL) ground cinnamon
Whipped cream, if desired
Maple syrup, if desired

Prepare Crust:

On an ungreased baking pan, spread nuts evenly. Bake for 5 minutes, remove and cool.
In a food processor, process nuts until coarsely ground. Reserve.

In processor, combine ground nuts, barley flour, baking powder, salt, brown and granulated sugars, and butter. Process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add water slowly through feeder tube and process just until the mixture holds together. You may not require all the water to reach this stage. Press mixture onto the bottom and side of the tart pan to form an even crust. Prick bottom of crust evenly with the tines of a fork and place crust in the freezer for 10 minutes.

Line the bottom of the crust with parchment paper; fill with pie weights or dry beans to keep pastry bottom even while baking. Place in oven and bake until pastry is light brown and dry, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven, remove weights or beans and let crust cool.

Prepare filling:

Leaving skin on, cut pears in half lengthwise and remove stem and small core.
If you desire an attractive fan of pear peeking through the tart, start slicing about ½ inch (2 cm) below the tapered end of the pear, making thin cuts through to the larger end. Do not cut through the top of the pear. This will allow you to fan out the slices. Alternately, pears can be cut into separate thin slices.
In a food processor (no need to clean), process butter, brown sugar, maple syrup (if using), eggs, barley flour, spices and any remaining ground nuts until smooth and creamy.

Spread mixture onto the cooled crust. Arrange pear slices on top, fanning out in a circle, with tapered ends facing into the centre. .

Place tart on centre rack in oven and bake until filling is puffed and slightly firm to the touch, about 30 minutes.

Serve warm, topped with whipped cream and drizzled with maple syrup, if desired.

Makes 8 servings.

Pear Hazelnut Tart:

Nutritional Information (per serving):
Calories: 521
Protein: 4 g
Carbohydrate: 57 g
Fibre: 7 g
Sugars: 35 g
Fat: 13 g
Saturated Fat: 13 g
Trans Fat: 1 g
Cholesterol: 99 mg
Sodium: 497 mg
Potassium: 250 mg