Thank you to Nielsen-Massey for sponsoring the post for this Pear and Mascarpone Tart with Almond Shortbread Crust. I completely believe in these products and thank you in advance for supporting us and the brands we adore.

With roasted turkey, green bean casserole and pumpkin pie far in our past, it’s time to put our focus on one of the best parts of the upcoming holiday season. Baking! I love to bake, but it’s not something I do consistently in the warmer months. However, come December, I’m ALL about it. Cookies, cakes, pies – you name it, I’m in.

For me, there’s something completely calming and feel-good about being in the kitchen with a little butter, flour and sugar. Watching something spectacular come together with a few quality ingredients practically makes me giddy, even before I take that inaugural bite.

While I adore a simple cookie, I really thrive with the showstoppers. Today’s Pear and Mascarpone Tart with Almond Shortbread Crusts is just that – a showstopper.

With a thick layer of almond-laced shortbread, a creamy filling of vanilla mascarpone and a gorgeous array of sweet pears, this is something you’re going to want to show off.

And can we be honest here?? It’s actually not terribly time consuming or difficult to throw together, promise. Always a win when you’re weaving baking into present wrapping, holiday decorating and other festivities.

Quality Products = Stellar End Results

It’s no secret, but when it comes to achieving a stellar end product in baking (or really anything), it’s all about using quality ingredients. A little pinch of flaked salt, a dash of intoxicating cinnamon, a splash high-quality vanilla, are all little touches that take recipes to the next level.

Today we’re partnering up with Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, one of my very favorite vanilla companies, and always my go-to source when baking. I’ve been using their products for a few years now, so I’ve tried most of them, and they’re all SO good. I have a few I like to use for specialty desserts (like their Pure Coffee Extract and Pure Peppermint Extract, but for everyday baking I’m all about their Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Paste and Pure Almond Extract.

Aside from the intoxicating smell and taste, I love that they use as little ingredients as possible when creating their products. Each ingredient is hand-selected from around the world and examined to make sure only the finest elements are used in the final product – and it shows. They products are also Kosher certified, gluten-free certified, all-natural, allergen-free and GMO-free, which I love.

They use a cold-extraction process that preserves over 300 delicate flavor compounds to make their vanilla some of the richest, purest out there. Even before you taste the proof, you can just smell the quality right after you screw the cap off. It’s intoxicating.

Since we’re using it in every single layer in this tart, the vanilla and almond are really the star ingredients.

Almond Shortbread Crust

First up, the shortbread crust. I love a classic pastry crust as much as anyone, but they’re so particular, I almost always find myself cursing it in one way or another. Shortbread crusts are kind of a cheater pastry dough, and almost always the way I veer towards when baking as of late. They’re a cinch to whip up and practically fool-proof which I know we can all appreciate.

It’s as simple as beating softened butter, sugar and vanilla extract together until fluffy and smooth. Next a little bit of salt (for balance) and all-purpose flour is gently mixed in. And finally, finishing it off, a little bit of almond extract. I love the punch of nuttiness it adds to the shortbread, but I also love that it’s a subtle way to “dress” it up a little bit more.

Similar to nutmeg, it’s one of those flavors that will leave your guests thinking, “What IS that?!”

Once the dough comes together it’s pressed into a tart pan and popped into the oven until it’s pale brown and puffed. It’s then left to cool completely while the rest of the filling is made.

Vanilla Mascarpone Filling

The filling. Ahhh. This stuff is LUSCIOUS. It’s obscenely simple, with only four ingredients, but the flavor is so delicious. Mascarpone, if you’re not familiar, is basically the Italian version of cream cheese. It’s not quite as tangy, and it’s also much smoother. I actually prefer it over cream cheese in sweet recipes, especially if it’s not being baked.

All it needs is a little sweetness from powdered sugar, a touch of pure vanilla extract, and again, a hint of nuttiness from a splash of almond extract.

Pear Topping

I adore pears. I feel like they’re kind of the unsung hero of winter. They don’t get a lot of love and attention, but they’re really great this time of year, so I love to use them in any way I can.

For this tart, I just sautéed them in a little bit of brown butter until soft, and  tossed them with some brown sugar for a little bit of added sweetness.  A final touch of vanilla extract finishes them off and they’re ready to be artfully nestled on to the tart.

There’s really no “perfect” way to arrange them. I just try to layer them next to each other as orderly as possible, but do whatever works for you.  If you’re so inclined, you can sprinkle a little flaked sea salt on top right before serving.

I like to set the tart at room temperature, but it’s also wonderful chilled.

A dollop of vanilla-laced whipped cream would be a wonderful finishing touch.

Check out more recipes using Nielsen-Massey’s Vanillas here!

Pear and Mascarpone Tart with Almond Shortbread Crust

Pear and Mascarpone Tart with Almond Shortbread Crust: A simple tart with a nutty shortbread crust, creamy mascarpone filling and a sweet pear topping.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword tart, pie, pear tart, pear pie, mascarpone
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Resting Time 45 minutes
Total Time 55 minutes
Servings 8 slices
Author Nicole

Ingredients

Almond Shortbread Crust

  • 1 1/2 sticks (170g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup (67g) sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Nielsen-Massey Pure Almond Extract
  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 tsp Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 1 tsp flaked sea salt
  • 2 cups (256g) all-purpose flour

Vanilla Mascarpone Filling

  • 12 oz (335g) mascarpone cheese, room temperature
  • 3 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp 1/2 tsp Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste
  • 1/2 tsp Nielsen-Massey Pure Almond Extract

Pear Topping

  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 large pears, peeled cored and sliced into 1/8-1/4-inch slices
  • 2 1/2 tbsp packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp 1/2 tsp Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease a tart pan with butter. Coat in flour. Make sure to shake off all excess flour.

  2. Add 1 1/2 sticks (170g) of butter to the bottom of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar, beat another 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla and beat just until combined. Add flour and salt, and mix on low speed, just until combined.

  3. Transfer dough to prepared pan, and use fingers and palm of hand to press the dough into the bottom of the pan and up the sides. Bake until lightly golden brown and puffed, about 15-20 minutes. (Start checking at 15 minutes.) Let the pie crust cool completely.

  4. While the crust cools, make the filling and pear topping. Add mascarpone, powdered sugar, 1 tsp. vanilla bean paste, and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract to the bottom of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed until combined, set aside.

  5. Heat a large non-stick pan to a medium-high heat. Add remaining 2 tablespoons unsalted butter. Once the butter melts, let it begin to brown. Once it turns brown, start to swirl the pan. Continue to swirl the pan until the butter turns a deep, brown color and smells nutty. Turn the heat down and add pears.

  6. Coat pears in the brown butter, and cook until pears are slightly softened, about 3-4 minutes. Add brown sugar. Continue to cook until pears are soft, another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and add vanilla bean paste. Toss until coated. Transfer to a plate or bowl and cool completely.

  7. To assemble: Spread vanilla mascarpone mixture into the bottom of the cooled shortbread crust. Arrange the pears slices artfully on top. Spoon any accumulated juices on top of the pears. Sprinkle with flake sea salt if desired.

  8. Serve at room temperature or chilled. 

Pear and Mascarpone Tart with Almond Shortbread Crust #NielsenMasseyPartner

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