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Maple Pear Tart

Maple Pear TartHalloween is over and Thanksgiving is coming up. You know what that means…

Pie Season!!! 🍁 🍃 🍂🍁 🍃🍂🍁🍃🍂🍁🍃🍂🍁🍃🍂

Maple Pear TartIn the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, I’ll be sharing a few new pie recipes, along with some other desserts, appetizers, and a Turkey Day side dish or two 😍😍😍

Maple Pear TartMaple Pear TartToday’s recipe isn’t exactly a pie–it’s a tart. A Maple Pear Tart. Like maple-glazed pears baked on the crispiest, butteriest crust that’s ever come out of my kitchen. This tart looks very fancy, but it is super easy to make. It’s literally easier than pie.

Maple Pear TartLet’s talk about the crust. It’s a simplified, homemade version of puff pastry, often called “Rough Puff.” I’ve used it for cheater croissants and for a few other things for which most people use frozen pastry, and I am consistently amazed that something I made in my kitchen could be so deeply buttery and flaky. Oh y’all, this is goooood.

Maple Pear TartIf the idea of making your own puff pastry–even the easy version–puts fear in your heart, you may use the frozen all-butter stuff. But really, there is nothing to fear. This tart is easier than pie, and this pastry dough is easier than pie dough.

Just cut European-style butter into some flour and little salt…

Maple Pear Tartadd some cold milk…

Maple Pear Tartfold it all into a dough…

Maple Pear Tartpat it into a rectangle…

Maple Pear Tartand give it a few rolls and folds.

Maple Pear TartMaple Pear TartMaple Pear TartMaple Pear TartWrap your rough puff pastry in plastic and throw it in the fridge for an hour (or up to two days). When you’re ready to make your tart, peel two pears and slice them as thinly as you can. You might want to break out your mandolin. If you don’t have one of those handy gadgets (I don’t), you can use a chef’s knife. Just slice the pears as. thin. as. possible.

Maple Pear TartMaple Pear TartMaple Pear TartGrab that cold pastry from the fridge, unfold it, and roll it into a 10×14″ rectangle. Fold the edges over and crimp ‘em, then dock the center with a fork. It doesn’t have to be beautiful–mine certainly wasn’t.

Maple Pear TartSeriously, it doesn’t matter at all. Sliced pears, a bit of sugar and butter cover all manner of ugly crimping.

Maple Pear TartBake it up! Some big bubbles may form despite the docked crust–just pop ‘em with a knife. It’s way fun.

Maple Pear TartPaint the pears with a couple of tablespoons of maple syrup.

Maple Pear TartMaple Pear TartYUM.

Maple Pear TartSlice the tart into eight pieces and serve it to people you love.

Maple Pear TartIsn’t that beautiful?! Those pears and that golden pastry are as visually stunning as they are delicious.

Maple Pear TartOh, I just love Pie Season.Maple Pear Tart

Maple Pear Tart
makes one tart

Rough Puff Pastry:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

For the tart:
2 large baking pears (I used a Bosc and a Bartlett)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

For serving:
whipped cream (optional)

Make the pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the tart. Place an oven rack in the center position. Preheat oven to 400F. Line a rimmed quarter-sheet pan or jelly roll pan with parchment.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Unfold dough. Roll dough out to 10×14-inch rectangle. Transfer dough to the prepared pan. Fold edges over about 1 inch and crimp with a fork. Dock center of the dough with a fork. Refrigerate while you prepare the pears.

Peel pears and slice in half lengthwise. Remove stems and seeds. Using a knife or mandolin, slice pears as thinly as possible, about 1/8-1/16 of an inch. Arrange pear slices decoratively over the crust. Scatter sugar over the top and dot with butter. Bake 28-30 minutes, until edges are puffed and golden brown. Large bubbles may form during baking. Just pop them with a fork or sharp knife.

Let tart cool completely in the pan on a rack. Use parchment to remove tart to a cutting board. Remove parchment. Slice into pieces. Serve immediately with whipped cream, if desired.

Tart is best eaten the day it’s made. Pastry will soften after several hours.

Maple Pear Tart

Maple-Roasted Pecan Butter

Maple-Roasted Pecan ButterI reorganized my kitchen last week. I should have done it months ago–my beloved mix-in cabinet was basically overflowing and the tiny bins I had for dried fruit, nuts, sugars, and chocolate just weren’t cutting it anymore. It had gotten to the point where I knew I had some of everything, but none of it was easy to access. After spending a cool $20 at Target, I’m happy to say that everything is organized and back in working order.

I knew I had pounds of dark chocolate and that I am set on light brown sugar for at least a month, but I didn’t expect to find two full pounds of pecans. It makes sense, being from Texas and all, but still. I live in a place where people generally prefer walnuts; I’d expect to have far more of those than anything else. So, what does one do when they have a glut of pecans? Well, first, make Carrot Cake Blondies. And then blitz the rest into this Maple-Roasted Pecan Butter.

Maple-Roasted Pecan ButterI love making nut butters. They come together in a matter of minutes and are far more delicious than their storebought counterparts…although I don’t think I’ve ever seen pecan butter for sale at a grocery store. Not in walnut country, anyway. This brings me to my next point: when you make nut butter at home, the possibilities are endless. Beyond peanut and almond butters, there’s homemade Nutella, pistachio butter, coconut-cashew butter. Heck, you can even make the best flavor combination in the world into a nut butter. <– seriously, make that.Maple-Roasted Pecan ButterMy Maple-Roasted Pecan Butter starts with roasting 12 ounces of pecans (about 3 cups of halves). Transfer the pecans to the bowl of a food processor and blitz until smooth. Resist the urge to eat it as-is (although you totally should). Add a tablespoon of maple syrup, a splash of vanilla, some cinnamon and nutmeg, and process again. The pecan butter will tighten up a bit and become nice and spreadable.

Maple-Roasted Pecan ButterOh, this stuff is good. It has a really pronounced roasted pecan flavor and the maple makes it slightly sweet. The vanilla and spices round out the flavor and make this nut butter pretty irresistible! Maple-Roasted Pecan Butter is great on toast, and would make a killer sandwich with a little raspberry jam. My favorite way though, is with a sprinkling of finely chopped dark chocolate.

Yep, chocolate for breakfast. Because I’m an adult.Maple-Roasted Pecan ButterMaple-Roasted Pecan Butter
makes about 1 1/2 cups

3 cups pecan halves
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
pinch of ground nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350F. Spread pecan halves in an even layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool in the pan on a rack until you can handle them.

Add pecans to the bowl of a food processor. Process until smooth, stopping and scraping down the sides as necessary. Add maple syrup, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and process until combined. Store in an airtight container.

Maple-Roasted Pecan Butter will keep at room temperature for up to a week, or indefinitely in the refrigerator.

Maple-Roasted Pecan Butter

Maple Pecan Pie {One Year Anniversary!}

Updated 11/08/2018: This post was edited to add better photos and to remind you to toast your pecans.Maple Pecan PieTomorrow’s a big day–this little blog is turning one year old! That’s 140 posts, 136 recipes, and more flour and sugar than I care to think about. It’s also late nights, hours of recipe testing, and a lot of joy. I have a job and a side business, but this blog is what matters most to me. It’s probably the biggest project I’ve ever undertaken, and I can’t wait to see how it grows in year two.

It’s comments, encouragement, and support from all of you that keep me in the kitchen creating new things. Thank you for reading and making my recipes in your kitchens. Thank you for sharing this little blog with your friends and family. It’s a real blessing to have so many people following my little passion project.Maple Pecan PieSo, how does one celebrate their blog’s anniversary? Well, they furiously text their little sister and two close friends saying “What should I make for the blog’s one year anniversary?” One recommended a throwback to my first post. One recommended something from my childhood. And one goes to Harvard and doesn’t have time for my petty nonsense (love you, Smel).Maple Pecan PieWith their suggestions in mind, I started thinking about pecans and about my grandmother, Nonnie. She lived in a tiny little house near Benbrook, Texas, and she made the very best biscuits and chocolate cake in the world (according to my family, at least). She made my dad breakfast literally every Sunday morning until she was no longer able to cook. My mom, little sister, and I would go to church while my dad ate fried eggs with sausage and biscuits, following it up with a twenty minute power nap in her red chair. Every fall, Nonnie and my dad would go into her backyard and rack her huge pecan tree. He’d bring home gallon-size zip-top bags full of Texas pecans and show Eliot and I how to properly break the shells and eat the meats, just like his mom showed him, just like we’ll do with our (figurative) children someday.

I don’t remember Nonnie ever making pecan pie from her tree in the backyard–I figure that cracking the shells was too much for her arthritic hands. But I also don’t remember a holiday without pecan pie. It’s always been a part of my family’s story.Maple Pecan PieSo, today, let’s celebrate one year of blogging with Maple Pecan Pie, the perfect tribute to my family, my Texan childhood, and my northeastern adulthood. This pie has everything you love about traditional pecan pie, but with a hefty dose of maple syrup and my go-to Cream Cheese Pie Crust. The filling is sweet, but not cloying, thanks to a little apple cider vinegar, and it has a little depth from the addition of nutmeg. If you’re going to mess with something as iconic as pecan pie, this is the way to do it.

And if you’re going to acknowledge one year of baking and blogging, Maple Pecan Pie is the perfect way to celebrate.Maple Pecan Pie

Maple Pecan Pie
makes one 9-inch standard pie

2 cups pecan halves, roughly chopped
1/2 recipe Cream Cheese Pie Dough
1 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
whipped cream, for serving (optional)

Scatter chopped pecans on a dry rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven for 5 minutes or until fragrant. Remove to a plate to cool completely.

On a floured surface, use a rolling pin to roll pie dough to a 12-inch diameter. Fit in pie plate. Cut excess to 1/2-inch, and crimp as desired. Chill pie crust.

Place the oven rack in the bottom-third position. Preheat oven to 350F.

Make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together maple syrup and dark brown sugar. Add eggs one at a time, whisking until combined. Stir in apple cider vinegar, vanilla, nutmeg, and salt. Whisk constantly as you drizzle in the melted butter.

Remove pie plate from the refrigerator and place it on top of a rimmed baking sheet (for catching overflow, although you shouldn’t have any). Place pecans in the bottom of the pie crust. Pour filling over the top. Bake pie 40-50 minutes, tenting with foil at the 20 minute mark.

Let pie cool completely on a rack. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with whipped cream, if desired.Maple Pecan PieMaple Pecan Pie

Maple Pecan Granola

IMG_0772Happy New Year! I hope your 2016 has been wonderful so far 😊 As I spent the last of 2015 working like crazy (nannying, catering two parties for my friend David, making regular cookie deliveries to a jeweler downtown, figuring out this food blogging thing, etc), traveling to Texas and back, and making dinner for 300 of my closest acquaintances, I hope 2016 brings a lot of naps. And real food. Don’t get me wrong, I love cookies and pie and cake, but since I’ve eaten those things at regular intervals for the last eight weeks, I am finding myself craving vegetables. So this month, I’m going to make a little effort to post some healthier recipes. There will still be plenty of cookies (because cookies), but I plan to post a few whole grain items and savory dishes, just for balance!

 I’m starting this healthier January with a favorite: Maple Pecan Granola. Super crispy, crunchy granola coated in a salty-sweet mixture of maple syrup and olive oil. This recipe comes from the brilliant Molly Wizenberg. She writes a long-running blog, has published two books, and co-owns (almost) three restaurants in Seattle with her husband, Brandon. Oh, and she and her friend, author Matthew Amster-Burton, have a hilarious weekly podcast called Spilled Milk that I absolutely love. If you see me walking down the street with headphones on, that is almost certainly what I’m listening to. Sometimes they make recipes to taste together, and other times they taste junk foods from various countries, and while ostensibly that doesn’t seem like it would be laugh-out-loud funny, it totally is. All that is to say, I first heard about this particular recipe on their Granola episode. It was already very simple, but I’ve pared it down even further.

 This granola goes well with just about any combination of fruit and yogurt, and I think a tablespoon or two could really amp up some oatmeal. Maple Pecan Granola does not have huge clusters since there aren’t a ton of sweeteners or add-ins, but the texture is so crisp that you won’t miss them. The magic here is in the simplicity. Mix together five ingredients, spread on a pan, bake in a low oven (stirring occasionally to prevent burning), and let cool. That’s it. This granola keeps well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three weeks. If you have a large family or want to give some away as gifts, this recipe doubles easily.

With only five ingredients, you might think this recipe could be a little…boring…but it is so much more than the sum of its parts. If you need more excitement with your breakfast, you’re in luck! This recipe is infinitely adaptable. Don’t like pecans? Replace them with any nut or seed that you love. Wish there were dried fruit or chocolate? Stir in some chopped dates or semisweet chocolate chips while the granola is cooling. Maple Pecan Granola can take almost anything you throw at it😊

Take this recipe and make it your own this year.

 Maple Pecan Granola
adapted from Granola No. 5 by Molly Wizenberg
makes about five cups

1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/3 cup olive oil*
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 cups old fashioned oats
2 cups chopped pecans*

Preheat oven to 300F. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together maple syrup, olive oil, and salt. Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to fold in oats and pecans. Spread mixture to cover the sheet pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, stirring every fifteen minutes to prevent burning. Let granola cool completely on the pans. Serve with yogurt and fruit, or milk of choice.

Store granola in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three weeks.

Notes:

1. Melted coconut oil may be substituted.
2. You may use any nut or seed that you prefer.

Maple Creme Sandwich Cookies

Updated 10/08/2019 to add better photos.Maple Creme Sandwich CookiesWhen I think of fall flavors, pumpkin and apple are almost always the first to come to mind. Warm and nicely spiced, these two flavors are perfect when the days start getting shorter and the wind gets blustery. There’s nothing quite like a pumpkin spice latte or an Apple Pie Cinnamon Roll to warm you up. But as these things become available earlier and earlier in the year, it is possible to tire of them before autumn is over. So, I am writing today to remind you of another fall flavor: maple. While you might not yet be bored of pumpkin and apple, you might need a little change of pace, courtesy of these Maple Creme Sandwich Cookies. Chewy, crunchy maple cookies are sandwiched together with a thick maple filling–perfect for your cookie jar.Maple Creme Sandwich CookiesThese cookies are chewy with crunchy edges and a pronounced maple flavor. The dough begins with creaming room temperature butter, dark brown sugar, and a little granulated sugar until it’s all light and fluffy. Then we add in two egg yolks for chew, but no egg whites. Egg whites, in combination with a liquid ingredient like maple syrup, would make these cookies cakey, and why would we make cakey cookies when we can make chewy ones?! Egg whites also give structure to baked goods, so their omission will make these cookies a little thinner and flatter, perfect for sandwiching with creamy filling. Next up is a 1/4 cup of pure maple syrup. This extra sweetener, in addition to the brown and granulated sugars, will allow for crunchy edges. Then we add a little vanilla and an optional touch of good-quality maple extract just to make sure there’s no doubt that these cookies are maple-flavored. Then comes the flour, a bit of cornstarch for tenderness, a dash of nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. The dough will be sticky and very thick. Cover it with plastic wrap and chill it for at least 90 minutes, until it’s firmed up and easy to form into balls. These cookies are small–only about one teaspoon each–since each sandwich cookie involves two of them plus the filling. They bake for 7-9 minutes at 350F, until they are no longer doughy and the edges are turning golden brown.Maple Creme Sandwich CookiesMaple Creme Sandwich CookiesWhile the cookies are cooling, make the filling. Beat butter until it is light and fluffy, and then mix in confectioner’s sugar and a little salt for balance. Then add in maple syrup, vanilla, and optional maple extract. That’s it! Super simple. The result will be a very thick paste, much denser than a buttercream frosting. If it’s too fluffy, the filling will squish out the sides of the cookie when you take a bite. While that would still be delicious, it would also be a mess. Cookie-eating should not be followed by having to change your shirt. When you bite into these cookies, the filling will stay intact. I recommend using a sandwich bag with the corner snipped off to pipe little circular dollops of filling onto the cookie. If you are not comfortable with a piping bag, an offset spatula will do the job.Maple Creme Sandwich CookiesThese cookies will keep very well covered at room temperature for up to five days. The flavor and texture will actually get even better on the second day! Make a batch of these for your cookie jar so that you can grab one or two to have with your coffee or tea. They’ll be a welcome treat after a cold, windy fall day.Maple Creme Sandwich Cookies

Maple Creme Sandwich Cookies
makes about 4.5 dozen sandwich cookies

Cookies:

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
4 tablespoons real maple syrup, preferably Grade B Dark Amber
1 teaspoon real vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring (optional)*

Filling:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 1/4-2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon maple flavoring (optional)

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat the butter with a hand mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in sugars until completely combined. Add egg yolks one at a time, mixing until combined. Then mix in the maple syrup, vanilla, and optional maple flavoring. Turn the hand mixer to low, add in the flour mixture in two installments. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and chill for 90 minutes or up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop the dough in one teaspoon increments. Roll dough into balls, and set them two inches apart on your prepared pans. Bake cookies for 7-9 minutes, until the tops no longer look doughy. Let cool on the baking sheets for 7-10 minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Repeat process until all dough has been used.

To make the filling, place the shortening or butter in a large mixing bowl, and beat with a hand mixer on low speed. Once it’s smooth, add in 2 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, until smooth. Beat in maple syrup, vanilla, and optional maple flavoring. If you’d like the filling to be thicker, add an additional 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar. If you would like to pipe the filling, place it in a plastic sandwich bag, and snip off a corner.

There are two options for filling.

  1. To assemble a sandwich cookie by piping, apply filling by pipe a circle in the middle of the underside of one cookie, leaving about 1/4″ around the edge. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.
  2. To assemble a sandwich cookie by spreading, use an offset frosting knife to spread 1/2-1 teaspoon on the underside of one cookie. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.

These cookies keep well covered at room temperature for up to five days.

Notes:

1. I use Boyajian Maple Flavor.Maple Creme Sandwich CookiesMaple Creme Sandwich CookiesMaple Creme Sandwich Cookies