Alex Guarnaschelli Blogs: My Boozy Pear and Almond Tart Recipe

10/27/2015 at 12:45 PM ET

Alex Guarnaschelli Tart
Courtesy Alex Guarnaschelli; Theo Wargo/Getty

Alex Guarnaschelli is an Iron Chef, Food Network celebrity chef, author of Old-School Comfort Food and the executive chef at New York City’s Butter restaurants. Read her blog every Tuesday to get her professional cooking tips, family-favorite recipes and personal stories of working in front of the camera and behind the kitchen doors. Follow her on Twitter at @guarnaschelli.

A banana rum filling replaces a more traditional cream filling with a fruity and slightly boozy center for this pear tart. The filling makes the ice cream or whipped cream you serve alongside this even tastier, too.

I like to use Bosc or Anjou pears because they are tasty and sturdy. If you’re feeling ambitious, use double the amount of smaller Forelle pears instead.

Be careful when making the caramel and cooking the pears. The process is fairly simple and has few ingredients but must be done with care. If you don’t like pear skin, peel the pears. They may cook slightly quicker without the skin. Your call. 

RELATED: Alex Guarnaschelli Blogs: Treat Yourself with My Classic New York Cheesecake Recipe

Alex Guarnaschelli Tart
Courtesy Alex Guarnaschelli; Theo Wargo/Getty

Alex Guarnaschelli’s Pear, Almond and Dark Rum Tart
Serves: 8-10  

The crust:

¾ stick (6 tbsp.) unsalted butter, melted
1½ cups (12-14 oz.) slivered almonds, finely ground
¾ cup sugar

The filling:
7 tbsp. dark rum
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. Blackstrap Molasses
1 tsp. dry ginger
1 stick (8 tbsp.) unsalted butter
7 medium bananas, peeled

The pears:

About 2½ lbs. (about 6) medium Bosc or Anjou pear, halved and cored
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Zest and juice from 1 large lemon
1 tbsp. Sherry vinegar

½ cup slivered almonds, toasted

1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Make the crust: Grease the sides and bottom of a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom with some of the butter. In a medium bowl, mix together the nuts, remaining butter and sugar until it resembles coarse crumbs. Use the bottom of a drinking glass to press the dough into an even layer in the bottom of the pan. Place the pan in the center of the oven and bake until the tart is firm and golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Set aside.

3. Make the rum mixture: In a small saucepan, combine the rum, vanilla, brown sugar, molasses and ginger. Bring to simmer and stir to dissolve the brown sugar. Shut off the heat and keep warm.

4. Make the filling: Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the butter and melt and allow it to brown slightly. Toss in the bananas and arrange them, with a wooden spoon, in a single layer in the pan. Sprinkle with a tiny pinch of salt and cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute. Turn them on their second side and cook for an additional 30 seconds. Pour the rum mixture over them. Add 2 tbsp. water and cook over medium heat until the bananas become tender, 3-5 minutes. Mash the bananas into the rum mixture with the tines of a fork. Note: If the mixture starts to separate, add another splash water and whisk until it comes back together. Cool.

5. Cook the pears: In a large skillet, heat the sugar over low heat until it melts and turns a very light brown, 10-12 minutes. Carefully remove the skillet from the heat and add the cinnamon and pear halves, flesh side down, in a single layer. Return the skillet to medium heat and cook, moving the pears around from time to time with a wooden spoon, until the pears become tender, 12-15 minutes. Carefully place the pan in the oven and allow them to finish cooking until tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 8-10 minutes. Remove from the oven. Add the lemon juice and zest and the Sherry vinegar to the pears.

6. Assemble the tart: Place the tart bottom on a serving platter. Spoon the banana rum filling on top leaving a 1-inch edge. Top with the pears in a single layer, flesh side up, and pour the cooking liquid from the pears over them. Top with remaining almonds.

RELATED: Alex Guarnaschelli Blogs: My Three Favorite Fish Recipes

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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