Are you lurking there in the wings, shy of telling me what it is that you cook that makes you wag your tail with pride and sends your self-esteem rocketing?  Are you shy because you wonder if barnyard animals roam freely around my house, and if you only could be sure that they did, then you would pipe up with your story?

Warm up the pipes!

is there anything here for moi?

Note to the file:  If you have hand-raised a chick in your house, and then introduced her to coop life, she will prefer coop life.  But she will never forget her roots.  Anytime wind or careless residents leave our front door open, this chicken (and only this chicken) wanders in.  There she is, seeing if the children have brought anything home from school for her.

If, on the other hand, you were waiting for a little teasing glimpse of the goodies so coyly offered yesterday with no hint of their identity, then consider this:

Bear in mind, if you are still tempted to lurk and not speak up for yourself, that this is a mere hint.

If, on the third and final hand, it was a recipe for a cake that is a pie that is a cake that stood between you and giving yourself a shout-out, then feast your eyes on that top picture.

A note: the first five times I made this, I neglected to notice that it was supposed to be baked in a tart shell, and consequently I omitted that step.  You can too.  Just use a regular pie pan, not a tart pan with a removable bottom, or your oven will require cleaning.

Another note: the original recipe called for pears, and it is heaven with pears.  With hardly any effort at all, you will create something (especially if you opt to brush on the apricot jam) that looks like it came from the French bakery that used to be on Third Avenue in the lower 70's where my sister used to indulge her weakness for financiers.  I used apricots this time, and it was also heaven with apricots.  I have made it with hazelnuts, pecans and almonds and each time: delish.  Substitute at will.

OK, one more note: this totally rocks as a gluten-free dessert.  So little flour is required for the filling that it matters not one whit what type you use, and the eternal bugaboo of pie crust is gluten, so GF flours lend themselves admirably to the creation of pie crust.  I needed more flour than the recipe called for to make a roll-out-able crust, but otherwise the substitution worked like a charm.  I used a new GF flour mix called Maninis, and was quite impressed.

pear and hazelnut frangipane tart

adapted from Gourmet Entertains, November 2001

  • 1 c hazelnuts, toasted, loose skins rubbed off in a towel
  • 1/2 c sugar, divided
  • 1/4 c flour
  • 6T unsalted butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 t vanilla extract
  • 3 firm-ripe Bosc or Anjou pears, or 6 apricots
  • optional: 1/4 c apricot preserves, heated and strained
  •  1 recipe pie crust

Preheat oven to 350.

If you are using a crust, roll out the pastry and fit it to a 10" tart shell with a removable base.  Chill it while you do the other steps.

Pulse hazelnuts with 1/4 c sugar until finely ground, then add flour and pulse to combine.

In an electric mixer, beat together the butter and the remaining sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each.  Then beat in extracts.  Reduce speed to low and mix in nut mixture until just blended.

Spread this filling evenly in your chilled tart shell.  Peel, halve and core the pears, then slice lengthwise into 1/4" thick slices, holding slices together to keep pear shape intact.  Arrange these on the filling, fanning them slightly.  If you are using apricots, quarter and pit them, and arrange them on the filling, pressing them lightly down.

Bake until filling is puffed and lightly golden, 30-40 minutes.  Brush the pears only with the apricot preserves.  Cool completely in the pan, then remove sides.

Are you ready to enter the prize sweepstakes?  Go to yesterday's post and leave a comment there!