Danish Pear-Apple Bars

My husband isn’t partial to summer fruit- with the exception of freshly picked strawberries. He loves bananas, Bartlett pears, and cantaloupe. šŸ™‚ Before the summer berry and peach baking season, I made these pie bars to embrace sweet and juicy Bartlett pears.

The bars have a Danish-style pie crust which very tender because it incorporates milk and egg yolks instead of ice water. It was really delicious. I also loved the cream cheese glaze spread over the top.

This recipe was adapted from 100 Cookies: The Baking Book for Every Kitchen with Classic Cookies, Novel Treats, Brownies, Bars, and More by Sarah Kieffer. I weighed most of the dry ingredients as well as the peeled and cored fruit. I also used fine sea salt and omitted the brandy.

It was a wonderful springtime dessert but it would also be fabulous for Thanksgiving.

For the Crust:

  • 1/2 cup (120 g) whole milk, plus 1 or 2 T if needed
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 1/2 cups (355 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 cup (2 sticks or 227 g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 20 pieces

For the Apple-Pear Filling:

  • 8 cups (1100 g) Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced 4mm thick (I used 6 organic pears)
  • 1 cup (150 g) peeled and grated Gala apples (I used one large Gala apple)
  • 1/3 cup (65 g) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar, plus 2 T for sprinkling
  • 3 T cornstarch
  • 1 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 T unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 T brandy (I omitted it)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Egg Wash:

  • 1 large egg
  • pinch of fine sea salt
  • 1 T (15 g) water

For the Cream Cheese Glaze:

  • 2 oz (57 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 T whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 to 1 1/4 cups (120 to 145 g) confectioners’ sugar

To Make the Crust:

  1. In a small bowl or liquid measuring cup, combine the milk and egg yolks. Place in the refrigerator.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour, granulated sugar, and salt on low speed until combined.
  3. Add half of the chilled butter and mix on low speed until the butter is just starting to break down, about 1 minute.
  4. Add the rest of the butter and continue mixing until the butter is broken down in various sizes. (most should be the size of small peas but some pieces may be larger) Make sure that all of the flour is moistened.
  5. With the mixer running on low speed, slowly add the milk-egg mixture, and mix until the dough starts to come together. If the dough is having trouble coming together, add 1 or 2 more tablespoons of milk.
  6. Divide the dough in half, place each piece on a separate piece of plastic wrap and flatten each slightly into a square.
  7. Cover and refrigerate until cool but still soft, about 45 minutes.
  8. On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, roll one square of the dough into a 9×13-inch rectangle (22×33 cm). (I covered the top with plastic wrap and rolled the dough 1/8-inch thick, using a bench scraper to cut pieces and patch to form the proper shape.)
  9. Transfer the dough to a 9×13-inch metal baking pan. Gently pat the dough into the bottom. Place the pan in the refrigerator while you make the filling.
  10. Roll out the second square of dough into a 9×13-inch (22 by 33 cm) rectangle using the same method. Place on an inverted sheet pan in the refrigerator while you make the filling.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Use a food processor to slice the pears 4mm thick and coarsely grate the apple(s).
  2. Combine the sliced pears, grated apple, brown sugar, 1/4 cup (4 T or 50g) granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. In a small liquid measuring cup or bowl, combine the melted butter, brandy (if using), and vanilla. Pour over the pear-apple mixture and toss to combine.

To Make the Egg Wash:

  1. Whisk the egg, salt, and water together in a small bowl; set aside.

To Assemble:

  1. Fill the prepared pie shell with the pear-apple mixture and smooth the top.
  2. Remove the top crust chilling on the inverted sheet pan from the refrigerator. Place the dough over the top of the filling. (It does not need to be sealed to the bottom layer.) Trim any excess with kitchen shears or a sharp knife.
  3. Gently cut a few steam vents into the top layer of dough. (I cut 11 vents.)
  4. Chill the pie in the pan in the freezer for 20 minutes while the oven preheats.
  5. Adjust an oven rack to the lowest position. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  6. Place a sheet pan on the oven rack while the oven is preheating. (The preheated sheet pan helps crisp the bottom of the pie crust.)
  7. When the pie is ready to bake, brush the top of the pie with the egg wash. Sprinkle the top with the 2 T reserved granulated sugar.
  8. Transfer the pie to the preheated sheet pan and bake for 45 to 60 minutes, rotating halfway through, until the crust is golden brown and the juices are bubbling. (I baked mine for 50 minutes.)
  9. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool while you make the icing.

To Make the Cream Cheese Glaze:

  1. In a small bowl, use a hand mixer to mix the cream cheese, milk, vanilla, and salt until smooth.
  2. Add 1 cup (120 g) of the confectioners’ sugar and mix again until smooth. If the mixture is too thin, add more confectioners’ sugar until the desired consistency is reached.
  3. Once the bars are cool, top them with the glaze; spread to the edges.

Note: The pie bars are best eaten the same day they are made but can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Vanilla Pear Sour

This festive seasonal cocktail was absolutely fabulous. My husband and I enjoyed it prior to our quiet Thanksgiving feast this year.

This recipe was adapted from Jamie Oliver via francoiselaprune.com.Ā I poached thin slices of pear so that I could use them as a garnish. I may poach even larger slices next time. We preferred it with a little bit less alcohol so I noted a range in the recipe below.

The delicious pear syrup can be made in advance, making this perfect for Thanksgiving or a party. We used the leftover syrup to make more cocktails! šŸ˜‰ It could also be drizzled over ice cream.

Yield: Makes one drink (plus additional Vanilla Pear Syrup)

For the Vanilla Pear Syrup: (makes enough syrup for approximately 10 drinks)

  • 1Ā Bartlett pear, cut in half or quartered, cored, & cut into thin slices
  • 200 g (7.1 ounces, 1 cup) granulatedĀ sugar
  • 200 ml (7 ounces, scant 1 cup) water
  • 1/2 vanilla bean,Ā split, seeds scraped

For the Cocktail:

  • 30ml (1 ounce, 2 T) Vanilla Pear Syrup
  • 30ml (1 ounce, 2 T) freshly squeezedĀ lemon juice
  • 44 to 50ml (1.5 to 1.75 ounces) vodka
  • ice cubes
  • poached pear slices, for garnish
  1. Add the pear slices, sugar, water, vanilla seeds with vanilla bean pod to a small saucepan. Simmer on low heat for 30 minutes.Ā Remove from heat and set aside.
  2. Let the poaching liquid infuse and cool down for another 30 minutes.
  3. Strain through a fine wire mesh strainer, reserving the poached pear slices for garnish. Keep pear syrup in a jar in the refrigerator; it will keep for 5 days.
  4. Combine the lemon juice, vodka and 30ml of the vanilla pear syrup into a cocktail shaker. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass with ice.
  5. Garnish with a thin pear slice (or two).

Note: This cocktail was also wonderful with Meyer lemon juice. (I used the juice of my very first lemon from my Meyer lemon tree!) šŸ™‚

Pear and Almond Tart

I served this elegant tart on Thanksgiving Eve this year. It was very well received! The classic combination of pears and almonds was absolutely delicious.

This recipe was adapted from Dolester Miles’ recipe in Frank Stitt’s Southern Table: Recipes and Traditions from Highlands Bar and Grill, via The Washington Post. The restaurant is located in Birmingham, Alabama. I used poaching liquid instead of rum in the filling and reduced the baking time. Wonderful!

Yield: 8 servings

For the Crust:

  • 1 cup plus 3 T flour, plus more for the work surface
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten

For the Pears:

  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 cups water
  • half a vanilla bean, split
  • one 3-inch cinnamon stick
  • 5 (large) to 6 almost-ripe, firm pears, such as Bartlett, Anjou or Bosc, peeled, halved lengthwise and cored

For the Filling:

  • 8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup finely ground blanched almonds
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3 T Calvados, dark rum, or poaching liquid
  • 1 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/4 cup blanched/slivered or sliced almonds, toasted, for garnish

To Make the Crust:

  1. Use cooking oil spray to grease a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom.
  2. Place the flour in a food processor.
  3. Sprinkle the salt and cubes of butter into the flour. Pulse until the butter is pea-sized.
  4. Pour the egg over the mixture; pulse just until the dough begins to come together.
  5. Turn the dough out onto the counter, and then gather it into a disk.
  6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to 1 day.
  7. Lightly flour a work surface. Unwrap and roll the dough out into a 12-inch round. (I roll the dough out between 2 sheets of plastic wrap.)
  8. Transfer it to the tart pan, using your fingertips to line the pan with the dough. Trim the edges even with the rim of the pan.
  9. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.

To Poach the Pears:

  1. Combine the sugar, water, vanilla bean and cinnamon stick in a medium saucepan.Ā Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Add the pears; once the liquid begins to bubble at the edges, cook the pears for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are tender and the tip of a paring knife slips into them easily. Let them cool in their liquid. Discard the cinnamon stick and vanilla bean.

To Make the Filling and Finish the Tart:

  1. When ready to assemble, make the filling: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Toast the almonds in a small, dry skillet over medium-low heat for several minutes, until fragrant and lightly browned, shaking the pan occasionally to avoid scorching. Cool completely before using for the topping.
  3. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer; beat on medium speed for several minutes, until light and fluffy.
  4. Reduce the speed to low; add the egg, ground almonds, flour, Calvados, rum, or poaching liquid and the almond extract. Beat for about 2 minutes, until smooth.
  5. Remove the tart shell from the refrigerator. Unwrap and pour in the filling, spreading it evenly.
  6. Remove the pears from the poaching liquid, placing them in a colander set over a bowl. Reserve 1 cup of the poaching liquid for this recipe; reserve and refrigerate the rest for poaching more fruit later.
  7. Place the pears cut sides down on the tart filling, side by side with the narrow ends facing in, until the entire surface of the tart is covered with pears. Cover the edge of the tart to prevent over-browning and bake (middle rack) for about 28 to 30 minutes, until golden brown.
  8. Meanwhile, cook the reserved cup of poaching liquid in a small saucepan over high heat until it has reduced to a glaze ā€“ about 2 to 3 tablespoons total. Remove from the heat.
  9. Once the tart comes out of the oven, brush it with the glaze, then scatter the toasted almonds evenly over the top. Serve warm, or at room temperature.

Note: The dough needs to be refrigerated for at least 1 hour and up to 1 day. The pears can be stored in their cooking liquid in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. The poaching liquid can be reused.

Apple Cider Pulled Chicken Sandwiches with Slaw

I have made slow-cooker pulled chicken sandwiches in the past but felt like they would be improved with slaw. This version fulfilled that wish! We ate them on soft potato rolls with chips. It was a wonderful, casual dinner that we enjoyed outside on a beautiful night.

This recipe was adapted from Just Cook It! 145 Built-to-be-Easy Recipes that are Totally Delicious by Justin Chapple. I used broccoli slaw as a base for the cole slaw topping and opted to not toast the rolls. With minimal preparation required in the morning, it’s a great dish to serve after a busy day.

Yield: Serves 6 to 8

For the Pulled Chicken:

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken thighs (about 8 to 10)
  • potato sandwich rolls, split, toasted if desired, for serving
  • slaw (recipe below), for serving

For the Slaw:

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 T apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp celery seeds
  • 12 ounces broccoli slaw (Trader Joe’s) or Brussels sprouts or shredded cabbage
  • 1 large Ruby Frost or Granny Smith apple, cored and julienned
  • 1 very firm Anjou or Bartlett pear, cored and juilienned
  • coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

To Make the Chicken:

  1. In a slow cooker, whisk together the apple cider, ketchup, sugar, vinegar, garlic, 2 tsp coarse salt, and 1 tsp pepper.
  2. Add the chicken thighs and mix well.
  3. Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 7 hours or High for 3 to 4 hours, until the chicken is very tender.
  4. Using 2 forks, shred the chicken in the sauce and then season generously with salt and pepper.

To Make the Slaw:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, vinegar, and celery seeds.
  2. Using a mandoline set to 1/8″, julienne the apple and pear. Slice the Brussels sprouts lengthwise by hand, if using.
  3. Add the fruit to the mayonnaise mixture, followed by the shredded cabbage/broccoli/Brussels sprouts.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and mix.
  5. Chill until ready to serve.

To Serve:

  1. Pile the pulled chicken on soft or toasted potato buns, top with slaw, and serve.

Note: The pulled chicken can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving.

Lighter Pear Crumble

By using maple syrup and brown sugar as sweeteners as well as whole wheat pastry flour, oats and almonds in the topping, this recipe succeeds as a lighter version of this classic comfort food dessert. We indulged a little and ate it with vanilla ice cream, of course. šŸ˜‰ Without the ice cream, this dish could actually be served for breakfast.

This recipe was adapted from The Washington Post, contributed by nutritionist and cookbook author Ellie Krieger. Lovely.

Yield: 8 servings

For the Topping:

  • 1/4 cup canola oil or other neutral-tasting oil
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 T almond meal or slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour (whole wheat flour may be substituted)
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt

For the Filling:

  • 3 pounds ripe but firm pears, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4-inch slices (I used 6 Bartlett pears)
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • freshly squeezed juice from 1/2 of a lemon
  • 1 T cornstarch
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Spray a 10×9-inch (can also use an 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch) baking dish with cooking oil spray, or brush lightly with oil.

To Make the Topping:

  1. If using slivered almonds, process them in a food processor until finely ground; alternatively use almond meal. Transfer to a medium bowl.
  2. Add the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt to the ground almonds.
  3. Drizzle the mixture with 1/4 canola oil; stir until well incorporated. Set aside.

To Make the Filling & Finish the Dish:

  1. Combine the pears, maple syrup and lemon juice in a large bowl.
  2. Sprinkle the fruit mixture with the cornstarch, cinnamon and ginger; stir until the pears are evenly coated.
  3. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
  4. Crumble the topping over the pears.
  5. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until bubbling and the topping is lightly browned.
  6. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving. Serve with ice cream, if desired.

Vanilla Poached Pears

This is an elegant and light dessert for a special occasion. Years ago, we were served this dish at a neighbor’s dinner party and my husband and I made it quite often for a few years. We loved it. I made this updated version to serve my family on Thanksgiving Eve this year. I thought that it was a perfect dessert for the evening before a day of indulgence. An added bonus was that the pears could be poached ahead of time and stored in the poaching liquid.

This recipe was adapted from Alton Brown via Food Network.com. I poached the pears cut in half rather than whole, and, as my neighbors did when they served this dish, added freshly whipped cream and crushed amaretti cookies as toppings. Lovely.

Yield: 8 servings
  • 1 (750-ml) bottle white wine, Riesling or Viognier (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 3/4 cup
  • 1 whole vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 5 firm Bartlett, Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled, halved, and cored (preferably using a melon baller)
  • freshly whipped heavy cream, for serving
  • crushed amaretti cookies, for serving
  1. Place the white wine, water, sugar and vanilla bean and pulp into a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. (I used an enameled cast iron pan with a glass lid.)
  2. Peel, halve, and core the pears.
  3. Decrease the heat to medium low and place the pears into the liquid (cut side up), cover and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Turn the pears cut side down and continue to cook for an additional 15 minutes, or until the pears are tender but not falling apart. Maintain a gentle simmer.
  5. Remove the pears to a serving dish and place in the refrigerator.
  6. Remove the vanilla bean from the saucepan, increase the heat to high and reduce the syrup to approximately 1 cup of liquid, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Do not allow the syrup to turn brown.
  7. Place the syrup in a heatproof container and place in the refrigerator until cool, approximately 1 hour.
  8. Remove the pears from the refrigerator, spoon the sauce over the pears. At this point, the pears can be stored overnight.
  9. Place a pear half in a bowl and drizzle with sauce, top with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, and sprinkle with crushed amaretti cookies. Serve.

Pear & Cranberry Pie

Hello, and Happy belated New Year! I hope that someone out there has not felt the need to modify their diet as I have quite a few recipes to share from festivities at end of 2016. šŸ™‚ My kids have winter birthdays so we are still celebrating in my house!

This delicious pie was from our Thanksgiving feast. The recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Justin Chapple. It was originally a slab pie but I modified the recipe to bake it in a “new” estate sale pie plate that had to be used. It was absolutely wonderful with vanilla ice cream.

Yield: one 10-inch double-crusted pie

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • coarseĀ salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
  • 1/2 cup ice water
  • 5 firm Bartlett or Anjou pears peeled, cored and cut into 3/4-inch wedges
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling
  • vanilla ice cream, for serving
  1. Day ahead: Freeze cleaned, fresh cranberries in a single layer on a plastic wrap-lined baking sheet.
  2. Make the Crust Dough: In a food processor, combine 2 1/2 cups of the flour with 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt and pulse to mix.
  3. Add the butter and pulse in 1-second bursts until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
  4. Drizzle the ice water over the mixture and pulse in 1-second bursts until the dough just comes together.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather any crumbs and pat into 2 rounds. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, about 45 minutes. (This can also be done a day in advance.)
  6. Preheat the oven to 425Ā°, preferably on convection.
  7. On a floured work surface or between sheets of plastic wrap, roll out 1 piece of the dough to a 13-inch round. Remove one side of plastic wrap and line the bottom of a 10-inch pie dish with the crust.
  8. Roll the second piece of dough into a 12-inch round; keep between sheets of plastic wrap. Place second crust on a cookie sheet.
  9. Refrigerate both crusts for 15 to 45 minutes.
  10. In a large bowl, toss the pears with the cranberries, ginger, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the remaining 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of flour. Spread the fruit evenly inĀ the dough-lined pie dish.
  11. Cut the chilled, 12-inch round pie crust dough into strips to weave into a lattice. Form a lattice over the pie filling.
  12. Fold under the edge and crimp decoratively all around to seal.
  13. Freeze for 15 to 30 minutes.
  14. Brush the pie with the egg wash and sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
  15. Cover the edge of the pie with a crust shield.Ā Bake the pie for 15 minutes at 425 degrees and then lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees and continue to bake about 45 to 60 minutes, or until filling is bubbling, crust is golden, and the pears are tender; rotate halfway through baking. Let cool.
  16. Serve with vanilla ice cream, as desired.

Note: TheĀ pie can be stored at room temperature for up to 2 days.

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