Special equipment: 1 1/2-inch, 2-inch and 3 1/2-inch star-shaped pastry or cookie cutters
For the dough: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Using your fingers or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it resembles a coarse meal. Add the egg mixture and stir the dough together with a fork until it is fully moistened and crumbly. Knead the dough a few times until it comes together. If the dough is dry, stir in up to 1 tablespoon cold water. Form the dough into 2 disks, about 11 ounces each, then wrap them in plastic and refrigerate for 1 hour.
For the filling: Meanwhile, peel, halve and core the pears. Cut each half into 4 wedges, and cut the wedges in half crosswise to shorten them. Toss with the sugar, cinnamon, salt and 1/4 cup bourbon. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat, add the pears, return to the heat and cook until the sugar dissolves and the pears begin to simmer, about 2 minutes. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pears are tender when pierced with a knife, 3 to 6 minutes. Strain the pears into a bowl to catch the juices. Put the juices back into the skillet and cook over medium-high heat until caramelized and syrupy, about 2 minutes. Pour the syrup over the pears and chill until cooled.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Place an inverted baking sheet on the bottom rack. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper.
Roll each disk of dough to a 12-inch circle on a lightly floured surface. Fit one into a 9-inch pie pan and trim to a 1/2-inch overhang, then brush the edges with the beaten egg. Fold the edge of the dough underneath and press to seal and crimp. From the second dough circle, cut out stars with 1 1/2-inch, 2-inch and 3 1/2-inch star cutters and place them on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush the cutouts with the beaten egg. Sprinkle gold sanding sugar over some, but not all, of the stars. Chill the stars and the crust in the freezer for 15 minutes.
Stir the cornstarch and the remaining 2 tablespoons bourbon, if using, into the cooled pear filling, and pour the filling into the crust. Lay the stars on top of the filling, some of them overlapping, so that most of the pie is covered but some of the filling is peeking out. Place the pie on another baking sheet.
Bake the pie on top of the inverted baking sheet until the crust is light golden brown, the pears are tender and the filling is bubbly, 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes. (If the crust gets too brown, tent it with aluminum foil.) Let the pie cool 1 hour before serving.
When measuring flour, we spoon it into a dry measuring cup and level off the excess. (Scooping directly from the bag compacts the flour, resulting in dry baked goods.) If you like a less boozy-tasting pie, omit the 2 tablespoons of bourbon added after the filling cools.
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