Almond Pear Tart

This is not one of those desserts you whip up for a hungry crew after a hard sail. This is best saved for those special evenings in the marina when you have time on your hands and appreciative guests who love good food and leisurely dining. This is a decadent dessert, but somewhat time consuming. It requires poaching pears, making a crust, making a filling, assembling the tart and baking in a hot galley oven. But it’s worth every minute of time. Or hour of time.
Common culinary knowledge tells us that Bosc pears are the best pears for cooking. They are firm and flavorful when cooked. Since they don’t really change color when they ripen it’s somewhat difficult to tell which are the best ones to buy. I bought 6, but of those 2 were very hard and unripe which I found out when peeling them. Try to get Bosc pears that have ripened a little.

Poached Pears

For a print-friendly recipe see below

One bottle of Marsala wine
1 cup water
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
4 cloves
6 allspice berries
4-6 Bosc pears

Begin the process by peeling, quartering and poaching the pears. I’ll admit that peeling pears, apples, peaches is really one of my least favorite things to do in a galley. But I’m finding the more that I do it, the more I warm up to it.

In a large sauce pan, pour in a bottle of Marsala wine. Or one bottle minus two cordials full as this pirate is prone to do! ; )

Add the spices. As you peel and quarter the pears, submerge them in the Marsala wine to keep them from discoloring as you peel the rest of the pears. I peeled 6 today, but 4 should probably do it.


Bring the mixture to a low boil, then simmer for about 30 minutes. This is going to make your cabin smell WONDERFUL! While the pears simmer, prepare your crust. This is just a basic pie crust.


1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon shortening
3 tablespoons very cold water


Preheat your galley oven to very hot, meaning above 350º; 400º is better. With a fork or pastry cutter, mix together the flour, shortening and salt until it becomes granular. Add the cold water (I had to put some water in the ice box for a few minutes. Our tank water was not cold enough), mix in until it forms a ball.

Place the dough on a floured work surface then look for a rolling pin.

Hmm. My rolling pins…since I don’t have a legit one on board…come in various formations. The wine bottles were beneath the floor board and a little moldy. Those won’t do. Obviously the square bottle of Beefeaters, the handle of Smirnoff and the pint of Screech won’t do either. Even the Pusser’s rum has a bulge at the bottom.

The winner is…Vigilant Navy Strength Gin, a gift from a fellow seaman.

Flour the bottle well and roll out the dough to the size of your tart pan. Funny thing about Vigilant Gin, as you can see above, is that it has a bump out of the Magnus logo on the back side. Oh well, it just gives it a little character.

Fold the dough over and place it in the tart pan.

Cut off the excess dough at the rim and patch up any holes with the extra dough. Place in your pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Keep you galley oven on after you remove the pie crust.

By the time the pastry is in the oven, the pears should be poached. You should be able to just press a fork into them. Don’t let them over-cook and get mushy. Remove from their poaching syrup with a large slotted spoon. Let cool. Once cool enough to handle cut the quarters in half or thirds, depending on the size of the wedge, length-wise.

Almond Pear Tart

7 ounces almond paste (one tube)
3 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons flour
6 tablespoons butter at room temperature
2 eggs plus 1 egg white at room temperature
1 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 teaspoons run, brandy, Calvados, Kirsch, or Amaretto

Mix the almond paste, sugar, flour and butter with a beater, fork or slotted spoon. Some almond paste is very firm, as mine was, and difficult to break up. Press out all the lumps as best you can. Add the eggs and egg whites and continue to beat until smooth.

Add the rum and almond extract. Now get ready to assemble.

Pour the filling into the pie shell and smooth out.

Carefully place the pear slices in a circular pattern with the fat end to the outside, skinny end pointed towards the center. Keep them all “facing” the same direction. Do the outside row first, then place the inside row, with pointed ends touching, overlapping the outside row as shown below.

Bake in your 400º pre-heated galley oven for 45 minutes or until nicely browned on top.

Let cool and carefully remove from the tart from the pan onto a serving platter. Tart pans have removable bottoms just for this purpose.

This dessert can be served at room temperature which takes some of the pressure off the galley pirate. A little whipped cream and French pressed coffee are a great compliment to this fantastic tart. Check out Galley Pirates’ other pear recipes, such as Gingerbread Cake with Caramelized Pears and Pear & Dried Cherry Crisp. All yummy desserts ready for the fall pear season!

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