This recipe is based on a French classic which my mum and sister made many times due to popular demand. The "light" part is that the original cream is replaced by quark, which is very low in fat but has a lovely creamy consistency and bit extra tang.
Make sure the pie casing has been blind-baked and cooled before proceeding.
Beat eggs and sugar at high speed with electric whisk until the mixture is smooth, relatively thick and very light in colour.
Add the quark, almond meal and almond essence and whisk again until smooth.
Spread 90% of almond mixture inside the cooled pie crust. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C (180 if fan-forced).
Peal and core pears, then cut either in halves or in smaller segments. Arrange pear segments over the almond mixture, slightly pushing each segment in. You can use canned pears as an alternative, most people won't know the difference :)
Lightly spread the rest of the almond mixture over the pears.
Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown. Can be served warm or cold.
Quark is a specialty continental cheese slightly reminiscent of cottage cheese, and can be found in some large supermarkets (like Woolworths or Coles) and delicatessen shops. It is fairly pricy, but can be used for many different recipes as an alternative to cream cheese, thickened cream or other fatty dairy products. It doesn't curdle when heated.
Shortcrust pie casing can be made earlier and frozen, or can be bought pre-made. If hand-made, it must be blind-baked and cooled before filling.