Make Ahead

Pear Almond Shortbread Bars

September 13, 2011
0 Ratings
  • Makes 16
Author Notes

For the longest time, I didn't like pears. I suspect some of that had to do with the fact that I never tasted a pear that wasn't from a can until I was well into adulthood. Still, if anyone asked me, I would have said that I didn't like them. Then we started getting them in our CSA box. Hmmm not bad. I liked them in salad and with sharp cheese. Started eating them with lunch. Last year I made Rivka's Cocoa Pear Crisps for a party and couldn't stop eating them. Now I'm a huge fan of the pear. I made Amanda's peach tart with pears, and in this recipe, played with my favorite lemon bar recipe (Alice Medrich's) to make pear shortbread cookies.

I used King Arthur's White Whole Wheat flour, but unbleached white four will work, too.

This recipe really plays up the almond flavor, but it's infinitely adaptable. If you're allergic to nuts, use rolled oats instead. You can use other spices--I've used a combination of ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice and clove. You can bake this in a tart shell and cut it into wedges.

The possibilities are endless.


What You'll Need
  • For the Shortbread
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¾ cup white whole wheat flour
  • ¼ cup almond meal (finely ground almonds)
  • For the Pear filling
  • 4 small firm but ripe pears (about ¾ pound)
  • ½ lemon (juice and zest)
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour (use another tablespoon of flour if your pears are really juicy)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 large eggs and 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • For the Topping:
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  1. For the Shortbread
  2. Heat oven to 350. Place rack in center of oven. Line an 8X8 baking pan with foil. (You can use parchment if you prefer, but the foil makes it easier to lift the bars out of the pan once they’re cool.)
  3. Whisk together flour, almonds and salt. Cut butter into chunks and melt it in a large saute pan over medium heat. Let it brown slightly—watch carefully so it doesn’t burn.
  4. Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar and almond extract. Scoop into the flour mixture and fold gently till just until incorporated. Press the dough evenly over the bottom of the pan. Bake for 25- 30 minutes, or until the crust is well browned at the edges and lightly browned in the center.
  1. For the Pear filling
  2. While the crust is baking, peel and core the pears (I highly recommend a serrated peeler for this, and I used a melon baller to remove the core.) Slice them thinly. I’ve used a knife and a mandoline—the mandoline makes more uniform slices. If you’re anal retentive, go with the mandoline. But wear those protective gloves while you do it—pears are slippery. Squeeze lemon juice over the pears and cover with a piece of plastic wrap so they don’t brown.
  3. Stir together the lemon zest, sugar, salt, allspice and flour in a medium bowl until well mixed. Whisk in the eggs and egg yolks, stirring well after each so that eggs are fully incorporated. Stir in the almond extract.
  4. When the crust is ready, turn the oven down to 300 and remove the pan. Place the sliced pears in single rows onto the crust, slightly overlapping them and covering the crust completely. Pour the filling over the pears. Sprinkle with sliced almonds, covering the filling as uniformly as possible. Mix salt and turbinado sugar together and sprinkle over the almonds.
  5. Bake for 30- 35 minutes, or until the topping is slightly browned and dry. Place on a rack to cool completely in the pan. Lift the ends of the foil liner and transfer to a cutting board. Gently remove the foil from around the cookies, being careful not to break off the edges. Use a long sharp knife to cut into sixteen 2 inch bars. Serve immediately. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • aargersi
  • drbabs
  • fiveandspice
  • inpatskitchen
  • wssmom

26 Reviews

aargersi January 3, 2013
Dr B I forgot to tell you I made these for Christmas and they are fantastic!!! They were a huge hit on the buffet.
Jack'sJodi September 15, 2011
Dr Babs,

I took a square of pear-almond shortbread from the kitchen at your office.
Simply delicious!!!!!! Thank you, I will definitely make this.

You will know me from my pharmaceuticals!

drbabs September 16, 2011
Thanks, Jodi--I'm so glad you liked them!
drbabs September 15, 2011
Thanks, everyone, for your sweet comments.
adamnsvetcooking September 15, 2011
This looks good. I would make a great desert for parties and pot lucks...
fiveandspice September 14, 2011
Oh, lovely! Any fruit plus shortbread combination leaves me drooling! Love the suggestion for the nut free version, too.
inpatskitchen September 14, 2011
I love this idea!! Thanks for sharing!
wssmom September 14, 2011
Oh my these look quite amazing! I may have to turn the oven on when the weather gets cooler later this week!
lapadia September 14, 2011
"liked" it, "saved" it !!! I second ALL the comments here, drbabs. My range/oven is being repaired..those darn computer parts, won't be fixed until next week :( Hope the warm grilling weather holds out.
Ms. T. September 14, 2011
These look amazing! I'm saving this one for next year when our little pear tree in the backyard overwhelms us again with its crop. This year, they took me by surprise, but next year I will be ready and armed with new recipes :)
joany September 13, 2011
These are delicious!
simplythebest September 13, 2011
They look wonderful shortbread is a favorite of mine. Love seeing all your recipes Barbara.
Lizthechef September 13, 2011
Great recipe - your baking talent is to be envied. I really struggle in this area.
drbabs September 13, 2011
You're sweet. I bet that new oven of yours will help turn you into a baker!
Bevi September 13, 2011
Shortbread is a weakness of mine. These look amazing.
drbabs September 13, 2011
AntoniaJames September 13, 2011
These look soooo tasty. Gorgeous photo, too! Bet these would be great with apples + pecans. The turbinado sugar in the topping, with its faint molasses notes, is wonderful. Love it. ;o)
drbabs September 13, 2011
Apples and pecans would be fab--I'll have to try that next. Thanks!
Niknud September 13, 2011
Yummy...Love the shortbread! Looking forward to trying these this weekend...
drbabs September 13, 2011
I hope you do--please let me know how they turn out.
aargersi September 13, 2011
You are a genius DrB! These look perfect!!!
drbabs September 13, 2011
Aw shucks. You staying cool there in Austin?
hardlikearmour September 13, 2011
These look really lovely, and sound delicious. Nicely done, drbabs!
drbabs September 13, 2011
Thank you, hla!
EmilyC September 13, 2011
You had me at pear + almond + shortbread...these look great!
drbabs September 13, 2011