Home for the Holidays 2003

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The Chef
Johnny Iuzzini of Jean Georges

Serves 6

Cinnamon-Orange Almond Cream:
4 tablespoons butter 
4 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup almond flour
1 and 1/2 eggs (or 2 small eggs)
5 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 orange, zested
1and 1/2 teaspoons Grand Marnier or triple sec
Seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean

Almond Streusel:
5 and 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup plus 1and 1/2 tablespoons sugar
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 cup plus 1and 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder Pinch salt

1 pound puff pastry (frozen is okay)
Flour for rolling out pastry
3 Gala apples (or any other baking apples)
2 Bosc pears 6 tablespoons butter, melted
5 tablespoons light-brown sugar
2 teaspoons fleur de sel

Cooking Instructions
Cinnamon-Orange Almond Cream:
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy. Add the almond flour, and mix until combined. Add the eggs one at a time until combined. Add the flour, cinnamon, zest, Grand Marnier, and vanilla seeds, beating until light and fluffy. Chill in the refrigerator to set.

Almond Streusel:
Cream the butter, sugar, and lemon zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until fluffy. Sift the dry ingredients together, add to butter mixture, and mix until combined. Form the dough into a block. Wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Let the orange-almond cream come to room temperature. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured board to a thickness of ⅛ inch. Cut the puff pastry into a 14-inch disc and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Working quickly, fold over the outer rim of the dough onto itself all the way around the edge, creating a double thickness of dough. Prick the single layer of dough all over with a fork. Spread a ¼-inch layer of the orange-almond cream onto the dough.

Peel, core, and halve the apples and pears, and cut into thin slices. Arrange a layer of apple slices over the almond cream, overlapping them in a circle. Brush the apples with melted butter, and sprinkle with half the brown sugar. Repeat the process with pear slices. Brush with butter, and sprinkle with remaining brown sugar. Remove streusel block from freezer. Using the coarsest side of a box grater, grate the streusel to cover the tart. Place the tart in the fridge to allow the dough to rest for at least 30 minutes.

Bake the tart until the streusel is golden brown, about 45 minutes. Using a spatula, gently lift up the tart to make sure the puff pastry is cooked through and golden brown on the bottom. If the streusel begins to darken and the puff pastry is not cooked, cover the tart with foil, and continue to bake. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Sprinkle with fleur de sel, and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Recommended Wines
Veuve Clicquot champagne, mulled spiced wine, or homemade eggnog.

Best With
Fresh-lemon tarts with meringue, sweet-potato pie, pumpkin pie, superrich chocolate brownies, and a selection of cookies.

Photograph by William Meppem