There is a season: Pear Almond Bars to welcome stone fruit season

  • These Pear Almond Bars are based on a pear almond tart recipe by Dorie Greenspan that Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen streamlined about a decade ago. PHOTO BY MOLLY PARR

For the Gazette
Published: 5/19/2023 2:28:33 PM
Modified: 5/19/2023 2:28:18 PM

For my birthday this year, I received an unexpected call from a local florist, double checking that I’d be home for delivery. A few hours later, to my total surprise and utter delight, an enormous fruit basket arrived.

It was a gift from my supervisor with a note hoping I could find joy in a day that is bittersweet for me. My mother passed away the day before my birthday two years ago. I was touched by her thoughtfulness, for writing such a sweet note, and of course for being gifted all the fruits.

The grapes were immediately devoured by my almost eight year old. Apples were dipped into peanut butter, one of our favorite snacks. Oranges mingled with beets and mint and an aged balsamic for a savory and sweet salad.

Bananas, pineapple and kiwi were enjoyed at breakfasts, whirred into wonderful smoothies, ensuring I was using my recently purchased (on-sale!) Vitamix.

I waited for the pears to be the perfect firm-ripe so I could make these pear almond bars. It’s a surprisingly simple recipe – really, just a few whirs in the food processor. It’s based on pear almond tart by Dorie Greenspan that Deb Perelman from Smitten Kitchen streamlined about a decade ago.

The base is an easy shortbread recipe requiring no weighing, topped with an even simpler frangipane (almond paste) done in the food processor while the crust bakes. I don’t even wash the bowl in between uses!

With stone fruit season almost upon us, I wanted to share this simple recipe which I use all summer long, exchanging one fruit for another. Think peach with almonds, or apricots with pistachios, or plums and walnuts. You can even stretch it into fall with apples and walnuts.

Pear Almond Bars


1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon table salt

1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar

1/2 cup (4 ounces or 115 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine


3/4 cup (a scant 4 ounces or 110 grams) shelled unsalted almonds

1 tablespoon (10 grams) all purpose flour

Few pinches of kosher salt

6 tablespoons (75 grams) sugar

5 tablespoons (70 grams) unsalted butter, cold is fine

1 large egg

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 pound firm-ripe pears


Heat your oven to 350 degrees. Cut two 12-inch lengths of parchment paper and trim each to fit the 8-inch width of an 8x8-inch square baking pan. Press it into the bottom and sides of your pan in one direction, then use the second sheet to line the rest of the pan, perpendicular to the first sheet. (If you have an 8-inch square springform, you can skip this and just butter it well.)

Make the crust: Combine the flour, salt and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into chunks, and add it to the bowl, then run the machine until the mixture forms large clumps — that’s right, just keep running it; it might take 30 seconds to 1 minute for it to come together, but it will.

Transfer the dough clumps to your prepared baking pan and press it evenly across the bottom and 1/4-inch up the sides. Bake for 15 minutes, until very pale golden. For the sake of speed, transfer to a cooling rack in your freezer for 10 to 15 minutes while you prepare the filing.

(Don’t have a food processor? You might have an easier time using softened butter and preparing this cookie-style: cream it with the sugar with a hand mixer, then spoon in the salt and flour, beating until just combined. It might help to chill this mixture a bit before pressing it into the pan, or it might feel too greasy to easily spread.)

Make the filling: In your food processor bowl (which I never bother cleaning between these steps), grind your almonds, sugar, flour and salt together until the nuts are powdery. Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the machine.

Run the machine until no buttery bits are visible. Add any flavorings and egg, blending until just combined.

Spread filling over mostly cooled (warmth is okay but it’s hoped that the freezer will have firmed the base enough that you can spread something over it) crust. Slice pears into thin pieces. From here, you have a few decoration options: You can arrange the strips one underneath each other, which takes about four or five rows of lined up fruit. You could also arrange the strips like petals of a flower around the pan.

Bake the bars for 60 minutes, or until they are golden and a toothpick inserted into the almond portion comes out batter-free. This might take up to 10 minutes longer depending on the juiciness of your pears and the amount you were able to nestle in. Let cool completely in pan; you can hasten this along in the fridge.

Cut bars into squares — chilled bars will give you the cleanest cuts. Keep leftover bars chilled.

Molly Parr lives in Florence with her husband and two young daughters. She’s been writing her food blog, Cheap Beets, since 2010. Send questions or comments to

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