To make the pastry, put the flour, butter and sugar in a food processor and blitz for a few seconds until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk, blitz again, and then add a splash of water and blitz again until it starts to come together. Add another splash if needed. Bring together into a dough by hand, then wrap in cling film, flatten and put in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.
Roll the pastry between 2 sheets of cling film, or on a lightly floured surface, until 3 – 5mm thick. Use to line 4 X 10 cm small fluted tart tins, or an 18-20 cm fluted tart tin for one larger tart. Push down on the top edge of the tin(s) to remove excess pastry. Put the tin(s) on a baking tray and return to the fridge.
Pre-heat oven to 180C.
Beat the butter and sugar until really soft and creamy, then add the ground almonds, followed by the flour, then the egg and the brandy / amaretto / almond extract, if using.
Peel and core the pears, cut them in half lengthways, then slice each half into 5 or 6 slices. If making a large tart, you can either slice them, or you can simply leave them as pear halves. (Depending on the size of the pears, you may not use 2 whole ones if making 4 individual tarts).
Remove the pastry case(s) from the fridge and spoon in the filling. Smooth the top, then place the pears slices or halves on top of the filling. Scatter over the almonds and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the pastry and the filling are both a lovely golden colour.
Leave the tart(s) in the tins for 5 minutes before removing the tin. Serve warm, or move to a wire rack to cool.
Dust with icing sugar (I use a tea strainer) before serving. Lovely with a little creme fraiche, cream or ice cream.