Tag Archives: pear

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerOn any other day, I would probably go on and on about how how I prefer my chocolate desserts to be all chocolate and my fruit desserts to be just fruit, but for right now, I must say otherwise. And even if I were feeling that way this particular Wednesday, I’d be hard-pressed to get the words out, what with shoveling bites of warm Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger into my face.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerAs far as late-January desserts go, this is about as good as it gets. I mean, when it comes to warm, soft pieces of pear, bits of melty chocolate and crunchy oat topping with two kinds of ginger, what’s not to love?!

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerBeyond being delicious, this crisp is wonderfully easy to make. If you are at all intimidated by making pie from scratch, this is the dessert for you. There’s no finicky dough or chilling or crimping, and definitely no lengthy cooling time. In fact, the whole process of making a crisp takes one hour, as opposed to the three or four (or more!) that it takes to make and cool a fruit pie.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerTo start, pears are peeled, diced, and tossed with sugar, cornstarch, ground ginger, and lemon.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerChocolate chips are scattered over the top.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerThe crisp topping is made from oats, flour, light brown sugar, chopped almonds, and both ground and candied ginger. Oh, and butter.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerScatter the topping over the fruit, being careful to cover most of the chocolate. This will keep it from overcooking.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerBake the crisp for half an hour and let it cool for ten minutes.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerWhile it’s warm, scoop it into bowls and top it with vanilla ice cream. The recipe says this addition is only “if desired,” but I like to think of it as mandatory.Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger

It really should be.Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger
makes one 8-inch dish, about 6 servings

Filling:
4 medium firm-ripe Bosc pears
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Topping:
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons candied ginger, minced
3 tablespoons chopped raw almonds (optional)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For Serving:
vanilla ice cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch casserole dish with butter. Set aside.

Peel and core pears. Cut them into 1-inch chunks and place in a medium-large mixing bowl. add sugar, cornstarch, ginger, salt, and lemon juice. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and scatter chocolate chips over the top.

Make the topping. In a medium mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, light brown sugar, ground ginger, salt, minced candies ginger, and chopped raw almonds. Stir together with a fork. Add melted butter and stir until everything is saturated and clumps form. Scatter topping onto the pears and chocolate.

Bake 28-30 minutes, until topping is browned and pears are tender. Tent with foil if anything browns too quickly.

Let cool 10 minutes before serving in bowls with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Cover and refrigerate any leftovers, reheating before serving.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger

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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

Pear & Cranberry Torte

Updated 11/15/2018 to add better photos.Pear & Cranberry TorteEverybody has their holiday mainstay dish. For some it’s tamales, for others, a glazed ham. For me, it’s this Pear & Cranberry Torte. I found the recipe for a simple cranberry version years ago when I was just learning to bake, and I’ve made it ever since. I made it as written many times, but as I gained more knowledge and confidence in my baking, I made a few adjustments and have had it in my holiday repertoire ever since.Pear & Cranberry TorteWhat’s the difference between a torte and a cake? Besides just sounding fancier than regular cake, tortes are made with minimal to no flour, relying on eggs, sugar, and sometimes leaveners to give them structure. I’ve put one other torte recipe on here, my grain-free version of Molly Wizenberg’s Winning Hearts & Minds Cake. If you or your guests are way into chocolate (or gluten-free!), throw that recipe on your menu.
Pear & Cranberry TorteBut back to today’s torte. It’s a buttery, light vanilla-almond cake full of soft pieces of pear and tart whole cranberries–it definitely tastes like the holidays. Where a lot of holiday desserts are time consuming and require ingredients you don’t use for the other 11 months of the year, this one is simple. With the exception of the pear and the cranberries, you probably have all the ingredients in your home right now.

The cake base comes together in minutes. Cream some butter, granulated sugar, and light brown sugar. Beat in a couple of eggs, some vanilla, and a hint of almond extract. Mix in a mixture of flour, baking powder, and salt before spreading the batter into a buttered springform pan. That’s it! Then just dot the top with chunks of pear (you’ll want to use one that’s ripe but not mushy) and scatter on some cranberries. Dust it all with a tablespoon of sugar before baking for 40 minutes or so.Pear & Cranberry TorteOnce baked, Pear & Cranberry Torte has a very rustic appearance. The pieces of pear will buckle into the batter while the cranberries dot the golden brown top crust. The torte may be served warm or at room temperature, and is just as good with whipped cream or a dusting of confectioner’s sugar as it is by its lonesome.

I hope this Pear & Cranberry Torte becomes a holiday mainstay for you. The buttery vanilla-almond cake and seasonal fruit are a delightful end to any holiday meal. And if you’re the kind of person who gives cakes as gifts, this torte is easy to pack and your friends will love it.Pear & Cranberry Torte

Pear & Cranberry Torte
adapted from Lottie & Doof
one 9-inch cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar + 1 tablespoon, for sprinkling
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 medium pear, cored, peeled, and 1/2-inch diced (about 1 cup cubes)
3/4 cup fresh or frozen whole cranberries

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until very light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Beat in granulated and light brown sugars. Mix in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla and almond extracts. With the mixer on low, mix in dry ingredients. Batter will be thick.

Spread batter into the prepared pan. Scatter pear pieces and cranberries over the top and lightly press them into the batter. Sprinkle additional tablespoon of granulated sugar over the top. Bake 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Let cake cool in the pan on a rack for 15 minutes before running a small, thin knife around the edge and releasing the springform.

Serve warm or room temperature with whipped cream, if desired.
Pear & Cranberry TortePear & Cranberry Torte

Black Bottom Pear & Almond Pie

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On our anniversary last year, Henry and I went to al di la, an absolute treasure of a restaurant in Park Slope, Brooklyn…with my parents. They were visiting and wanted to take us out to celebrate, and who were we to turn down a (very) nice free meal? At the end of a dinner that I’m still thinking about almost a year later, we decided to split a dessert. This is a big deal. You see, Henry’s not much for sweets. I make dozens of cookies every week (not to mention all the cakes and pies and cinnamon rolls), and he politely turns down almost all of them. He digs gingersnaps and chocolate cake without frosting, but that’s pretty much it. So when he wanted to split a dessert at this restaurant, I leapt at the opportunity. Seeing as he is pickier about sweets than I am (I just had a cookie and called it breakfast), I let him choose. And he went for the one thing on the menu that didn’t look wonderful to me: an almond cake with pears and bittersweet chocolate. You see, for me, fruit and chocolate don’t really go together. I mean, if you give me a piece of chocolate cake with raspberry filling, I’m not going to turn it down. (As a rule, I don’t turn cake down.) But it’s not my favorite. So when this cake showed up at the table, I expected to take two bites, say how good it was, and be finished with it. That’s where I was wrong. This cake was dense and rustic, with a good almond flavor, soft pieces of pear, and a magical layer of melted chocolate. I’m pretty sure I ate all of my half and most of Henry’s too. And here we are, two weeks away from our anniversary, and I’m still thinking about it…so I took that cake and made it pie.

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This pie, you guys. This pie. It’s got soft pears in an almond filling, all suspended over a puddle of chocolate ganache. And all of that is in a cream cheese pie crust because that’s how I roll. It’s elegant and seasonal. There’s fruit, there’s chocolate–it covers all the bases. I won’t lie to you, it takes time and there are many steps, but none of them are difficult. This pie is sooo worth the effort. Don’t let the length of the recipe scare you away. You can do this. Let’s get started.

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We start by poaching pears. If we put raw pears in the pie, the result could be…crunchy. And while crunchy pies can be amazing (pecan pie is my jam), fruit pies should have a softer filling. So, let’s poach. We need four firm pears, like Bosc, about seven ounces each. Leaving them whole, peel them and set them aside. Bring some water and sugar to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Squeeze in the juice of an orange (about 1/4 cup) and throw in the two halves of your squeezed orange. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat and drop in the pears. Simmer for 20 minutes, then let them cool to room temperature in the poaching liquid. You can do this up to 24 hours ahead, and then put the pears and liquid in the refrigerator until you are ready to assemble the pie. If you want to cut the poaching step altogether, you may use canned whole pears in juice.

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Then, take one good pie crust (I like this Cream Cheese Pie Dough), roll it to a 12-inch diameter, fit it in a pie plate, and crimp the edges. Then, throw it in the fridge while you preheat the oven to 425F. This crust has to be partially blind-baked, or baked without filling, because the wet filling in this pie could give us a soggy crust otherwise. When the oven is preheated, take the pie crust out of the refrigerator and prick the bottom of the crust several times with a fork. This is called docking; it keeps the crust from puffing up by allowing trapped steam to escape. Then, line the crust with foil and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake the crust for 17 minutes. Remove it from the oven and take out the foil and weights/beans. Bake the crust for an additional three minutes. Let the crust cool to room temperature while you prepare the ganache.

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This part is easy. Chop four ounces of bittersweet chocolate and put them in a bowl. Heat 1/4 cup of heavy cream in a small saucepan over low heat. When it just barely comes to a boil, remove it from the heat and pour it over the chopped chocolate. Once the chocolate looks melty, stir it all together with a fork until you have a smooth, beautiful sauce. Let that cool a little bit while you make the frangipane.

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imageimageFrangipane (almond filling) sounds difficult, but it really couldn’t be simpler. Put blanched almonds and a little flour in a food processor, and blitz until it becomes a fine meal. Then, pulse in sugar and salt, followed by six tablespoons of butter. Once that all comes together, put in one egg and 1/2 teaspoon of pure almond extract. It’s ready when it vaguely resembles hummus. Do not over-process, or you’ll have almond butter. Delicious, but not what we need here.

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imageimageNow, to assemble. Spread your ganache in the room temperature pie crust. Let it chill in the fridge for five minutes, just to set. Then, spread half your frangipane over the ganache, and then top that with half your pears. Spread the pears with the second half of your frangipane, and then decorate the top with the second half of your pears. Brush the exposed pears with heavy cream and sprinkle them with sugar. Cover the exposed crust with a pie protector or foil; I use a 9″ hoop that I made out of foil, and it works like a charm. Place the pie in a 350F oven for 45-55 minutes, until cooked through and lightly browned. Let it cool for at least two hours before slicing and serving with lightly sweetened whipped cream and a dusting of confectioner’s sugar. If you want to make it ahead, the pie will keep covered at room temperature for two days or in the refrigerator for three.

imageNow, look how fancy you are with your fancy pie. You can throw the word “frangipane” around at your Thanksgiving dinner and be all sophisticated and stuff. And then you can eat two slices in a very unladylike fashion and tell everyone that there are no leftovers as you shove the last piece in the back of the fridge. You’ve earned that last piece. You are the pie queen/king. You nailed it.

Want more pie? Check out this light and fluffy Pumpkin Pie, and come back next week for one more pie recipe before Thanksgiving.

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Black Bottom Pear & Almond Pie
heavily adapted from Pear and Almond Tart by Deb Perelman
makes one 9″ pie

Pears
4 cups water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 whole orange, washed
4 whole pears*, about 7 oz each, peeled

Crust
1/2 recipe Cream Cheese Pie Dough

Ganache
4 oz good quality bittersweet chocolate*
1/4 cup heavy cream

Frangipane (Almond Filling)
4 ounces whole blanched almonds*
1 tablespoon all purpose flour
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold-ish room temperature, cut into cubes
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract

heavy cream, for brushing
1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar, for sprinkling

Start by poaching the pears. In a large pot, bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Slice the orange in half. Squeeze the juice into the water, then drop both halves of the orange into the pot. When the liquid comes to a boil, turn the heat to medium high. Drop in the pears and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 20 minutes. They should be tender, but not falling apart. Let the pears cool to room temperature in the poaching liquid.*

On a floured surface, roll out the pie crust to a 12-inch diameter. Fit into a 9-inch pie plate*, and trim the edges to 1/2-inch of overhang. Crimp the edges. Place crust in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Blind bake the crust. Preheat the oven to 425F. Remove chilled crust from the refrigerator. Prick the bottom of the crust several times with a fork. Line the inside of the crust with foil, and fill with pie weights or 1 lb of dried beans. Bake for 17 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven, and gently lift out the foil and weights/beans. Bake the crust for an additional three minutes. Let crust cool to room temperature.

Make the ganache. Chop 4 ounces of bittersweet chocolate and place in a small bowl. Place heavy cream in a small saucepan over medium heat. When it just barely starts to boil, remove it from the heat and pour the cream over the chocolate. Once the chocolate looks soft, stir it together with a fork until you have a smooth chocolate sauce. Let cool a bit while you prepare the frangipane.

In a food processor (or very good blender), grind blanched almonds and flour until the mixture is a fine meal. Pulse in salt and granulated sugar. Pulse in butter. Pour in egg and almond extract, and process until frangipane is a homogenous paste.

Prepare the pears. Discard the poaching liquid. Slice the pears in half and core them. Then cut each half into 1/4-inch slices width-wise.

Assemble the pie. Spread an even layer of chocolate ganache onto the bottom of the pie crust. Refrigerate five minutes to set. Spread half the frangipane over the ganache. Layer half the pears on top. Then, spread the pears with the rest of the frangipane. Decorate the top of the pie with the remainder of the pears. Brush the exposed pears with heavy cream and sprinkle with granulated sugar.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Cover the exposed crust with foil or a pie protector. Bake the pie for 45-55 minutes, or until the pears are light golden brown. Let the pie cool for at least two hours before slicing and serving with a sprinkling of confectioners sugar and sweetened whipped cream.

This pie keeps covered at room temperature for two days, or in the refrigerator* for three days.

Notes:

  1. I use Bosc pears. Anjou and Bartlett are also good choices. Make sure your pears are firm.
  2. I use Trader Joe’s Pound Plus Dark Chocolate.
  3. If you can’t find whole blanched almonds, an equal weight of slivered almonds (without skins) or almond flour will do.
  4. The pears may be prepared up to 24 hours in advance. Just let them cool to room temperature, discard the orange halves, and then refrigerate the pears in the poaching liquid until you are ready to use them.
  5. Use a standard pie plate, not deep dish.
  6. Let refrigerated pie sit at room temperature for 60-90 minutes before slicing.