I didn’t intend for the first day of 2016 to be about anything too particular, as the high and dry easterly with a touch of southeast has been blowing since the 30th or so and my mind is on auto-pilot after staying up past my bedtime. A good excuse to spend time with old friends and new, we sailed our hopes and dreams/mental baggage down the Tlell river last night, a little too windy to light the candles on the boats, but sending off the 2015 year with a middle finger salute was quite satisfying! I made a caramelized pear tart this week from a cook book which arrived from the library this week,… oh how fun! I followed that recipe to the exact measurements and timing following the author ‘Dorie Greenspans advice except that it didn’t turn out at all like what she described in her book of recipes for either her sweet dough for the crust, or for the caramelized pears for the filling. I was expecting something different, but ah well, all is not lost and after we eat it today it’ll be decided a success or no, such are the joys of cooking from new cookbooks! Cookbooks either thrill me or they don’t and as this is mostly the only reading I do,( it has to either be about cooking or adventuring in the High Arctic or Antarctica)…I was expecting to be thrilled with receiving a cookbook or two over the holidays…. I eagerly anticipate some inspirational and authentic words of wisdom in the cooking arena in 2016, as I’m sure there’ll be another cookbook just around the corner this year on your coffee table for next Christmas!
Dorrie Greenspan’s Caramelized Pear Tart
For the Crust
1 ½ c. all purpose flour
½ c. icing sugar
¼ tsp. salt
4 ½ oz.- Very cold unsalted butter- cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
Mix flour, sugar, and salt in food processor and pulse a few times to blend. Scatter pieces of butter over dry ingredients and pulse until butter is cut in coarsely. Stir the yolk just to break it up and add it a little at a time, pulsing after each addition until it forms clumps. I ended up pressing this dough which was very crumbly into a 9 inch tart pan, then freezing it for 30 minutes before baking in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. She talks about rolling out her dough between parchment sheets, but mine resembled very dry shortbread cookie dough, probably not enough butter either! Next assemble the filling and topping.
For the filling
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter
5 ripe but firm pears, peeled cored and cut into ½ inch chunks
2 ½ Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. bourbon (optional)
Melt the butter until bubbling over medium high heat, using a shallow pan to dissipate some of the moisture while sautéing the pears, cooking for about 5 minutes until they are beginning to soften and beginning to brown here and there. I think mine were too ripe as I was beginning to move towards pear sauce before I tossed the sugar in and turned off the heat. I was attempting to carmelize the pears, but having failed, just tossed in the sugar and the bourbon and moved onto the next step which was to set the bourbon on flame…not even going to give that one a try this time! Set aside.
1c. icing sugar
3 large egg whites
1 ½ c. sliced almonds
Put the icing sugar in a bowl and pour the eggs whites over it. Using ones fingers gently moisten the sugar with the whites…what fun! Adding the almonds, toss them around in the bowl until thoroughly coated.
When the crust has baked, remove it from the oven and let it cool slightly. Pour the filling into the crust, spread the almond mixture over the top and place the unbaked tart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Place back into a 400 degree oven and bake for another 20- 25 minutes or until golden and shiny. Let it cool at least as much as it won’t burn your mouth, and then enjoy with coffee and friends.
Even if it doesn’t turn out to be exactly what you were expecting there is a comfort in realizing that its all good anyways!