Heat the water and honey until honey is dissolved and the water is bubbly. Add lemon, vanilla sugar or extract, cinnamon, and cloves. Slide in the pears and cover with a lid, allowing some of the steam to escape.
Simmer on low, turning occasionally, until cooked through, 20-30 minutes, depending on the pears. Cool pears in syrup. This can be made two days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Make the tart shell
In a medium-sized ovenproof bowl, combine the butter, oil, water, sugar, and salt.
Place the bowl in the oven for 15 minutes until the butter is bubbling and starts to brown just around the edges.
Remove the bowl from the oven using oven mittens (the bowl will be hot, and the mixture might sputter a bit), dump in the flour, and stir it in quickly until it comes together and forms a ball that pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Transfer the dough to a tart pan with a removable bottom and spread a bit with a spatula; reserve a small piece of dough, about a size of a raspberry, for patching any cracks.
Once the dough is cool enough to handle, pat it into the shell with the heel of your hand, and use your fingers or fork to press it up the sides of the tart mold.
Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork, then bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit or until the dough is golden brown.
Remove from the oven and if there are any sizable cracks, use the bits of reserved dough to fill in and patch them. Let the shell cool before filling.
Make the almond filling
Beat the almond paste with the sugar and flour until smooth. The paste might be dry and hard to work with. Microwave it in 10 seconds intervals until soft and pliable.
Gradually beat in the butter until smooth. Add eggs, liquor, and almond extract if using, and mix until combined.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place the pre-baked tart shell on a baking sheet. Carefully spread the almond filling over the shell. Arrange the pears on top without touching each other and slightly press them into the filling; sprinkle with sliced almonds (optional).
Bake the tart for about 45 minutes, or until the almond filling between the pears has browned.
Cool tart in pan on a rack before serving. Push pan bottom up, releasing tart from pan; dust with confectioner’s sugar or glaze as desired.
You can replace the almond paste with marzipan if you absolutely must (*see the difference in the post), but since marzipan is already sweet, omit the sugar in the filling section of the recipe.
Use firm, just barely ripe pears whenever you are poaching, or they will become overcooked.
Be sure to drain the pears well. Use paper towels to pat them dry before placing them on the almond filling. You don't want them sitting in its juice.
If your pears are too large, you could cut the bottom portion (⅓ or so) after poaching. It only makes for a better presentation, though. You can keep them as is if you wish.
This tart would also be amazing using quince.
If your dough is still too soft after it's been cooled, knead in a bit more flour (1-2 tbsp.).
Cracks in the crust are normal. Patch larger ones with reserved dough.
It's better to undercook the crust just a little in blind baking than to overbake it, as you will bake for the second time. Or, put the foil ring around the crust borders for the second round.
Set the pan on a baking sheet before sliding it into your oven since some melted butter can run out, especially American butter that has higher water content than European butter.
Oven temps vary, so keep your eye on the pastry as it is easy to burn near the finish.
Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary significantly based on the products used and serving size.