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Blue Heron in flight

Wednesday, June 5, 2024

Pear tart with cream cheese, ginger and hazelnuts

I decided to get away from my usual scone thing and make a tart with puff pastry tonight. 

Leslie brought some pears home the other day and I have always loved pear desserts. 

Why not? 

I would make a nice pear tart, from my own head. Made it up as I went along.

Renee bakes a lot of good desserts and she told me that she likes to use Dufour puff pastry as it is made with butter instead of shortening. 

But it is hard to find. Whole Foods sells it but there isn't a Whole Foods around for miles.

So I was overjoyed when I did a Google search and found out that Albertsons sells it as well.

Except that they don't actually, at least locally. I drove down and had two choices, Pepperidge Farm and Schar, an Italian company, whose product happens to be gluten free.

What the hell, I picked up a package.

I prepped my ingredients and opened up the box of dough. Unfortunately, the package said to let it thaw for at least four hours and then defrost it in the microwave to boot. 

Damn, I didn't have four hours. So I preheated the oven for 400 degrees and let the sheet pan with the dough unrolled sit on top with the door open and got it as unthawed as I could. 

I knew that it would not be perfect but what is in this world? I would find the Dufour for the next round but would do the best I could for this one.

I used a rolling pin and a little water and mended the breaks in the still brittle dough. 

I used the edge of my fork to create a border and then used the tines to poke the bottom.

I then whisked up four ounces of cream cheese, a quarter cup of sugar and a half teaspoon of vanilla and made a paste for the bottom of my tart. 

I wanted a binder under the fruit that would add a bit of tartness and did not really feel like making a custard and using all the egg yolks that would entail and all the extra work.

I washed my two large d'anjou pears and then sliced them into small segments. 

You want your fruit ripe but firm, not mushy! Left the peel on by the way.

I took a large mixing bowl and added three tablespoons of honey, a tablespoon of flour, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon and a pinch of nutmeg and stuck the pear slices in, using a wooden spoon to coat them fully.

I arranged them on my pastry shell in an interlocking fashion. 

I took a handful of hazelnuts and used my wooden mallet to crush them as best I could.

This did not work so well, so I ended up chopping them with my chef's knife.

I sprinkled the nut mixture on top of the fruit and then poured what remained of the honey mix on top of that in a drizzle.

I slid the pan in the oven and cooked the tart for about 22 minutes, until it started to brown a bit and I could see it start to caramelize.

The cooked tart looked wonderful although I forgot to egg wash the border for color.

Next time.

I was almost done. 

I took the heavy whipping cream I had bought at Albertsons, added some sugar and a bit more vanilla and whisked it as stiff as I could, not having access to a good electric hand or stand mixer. 

I tried my immersion blender and it was pretty useless.

I cut Leslie and myself a piece and can report that it tasted and smelled incredible. Fragrant and delicious.

Quite heavenly dish.

Wouldn't have changed a thing except the pastry dough, which was a bit underwhelming but that might be on me for my quick thaw and it might be because it is gluten free and contains no eggs or dairy products.

Definitely want to repeat this with a better dough or make it myself next time.

I have one more pastry sheet in the box. 

I will thaw it out properly this time and either make an apple tart or berry but will change it up, maybe use mascarpone.

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