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. 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 – 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.

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 Snacking Cake with Brown Butter Glaze

This cake was just calling for all of the Bosc pears that I’ve received in my CSA share recently. I love it when I have all of the ingredients readily available to make a special treat. 🙂

As a side note, I don’t really understand the idea of a “snacking” cake. This is definitely a CAKE. The brown butter glaze was absolutely essential and absolutely fabulous. Yes, it was easy to eat and, yes, it’s not a fancy layer cake. I also suppose it would be a wonderful snack! We enjoyed it for dessert. 😉

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Melissa Clark. I incorporated whole wheat pastry flour and decreased the amount of fresh nutmeg. I also omitted the nuts. Delicious!

I’m sharing this special “snack” at Angie’s Fiesta Friday #142 this week, co-hosted by Elaine @foodbod and Michelle @O Blog Off. Enjoy! 🙂

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup/227 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks), at room temperature, more to grease the pan
  • 1 cup/200 grams granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup/100 grams dark brown sugar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground clove
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 3 to 4 large pears (2 1/4 pounds/1 kilogram), peeled, cored and shredded or finely chopped (to yield 2 1/2 cups) (I finely chopped the prepared pears in a mini-food processor.)
  • 2 ¾ cups/350 grams all-purpose flour (I used 175 g all-purpose flour & 175 g whole wheat pastry flour)
  • ¾ cup/75 grams rolled oats
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts or pecans, chopped, optional

For the Brown Butter Glaze:

  • 5 tablespoons/70 grams unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons/25 grams dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup/125 grams confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons/45 milliliters heavy cream or milk, more as needed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of coarse salt
  1. Prepare the cake: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-2-inch square or 9-inch-round pan and line bottom with parchment paper. (I used cooking oil spray.)
  2. Using a stand mixer, beat butter until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add sugars, baking powder, salt, vanilla, nutmeg, cloves and baking soda and beat for 1 minute.
  4. Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  5. With the mixer on low, beat in half the pears, and then beat in the flour until smooth.
  6. Beat in remaining pears, then the oats, beating until well incorporated.
  7. Beat in nuts, if using.
  8. Spread batter in the prepared pan and bake until the top springs back when lightly pressed in the center of the cake, 40 to 50 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  9. Prepare the glaze: In a small saucepan, melt butter, then let it simmer until the foam on top falls to the bottom of the pot and turns brown, about 3 minutes. It will smell nutty and rich when it’s ready.
  10. Whisk in brown sugar until it dissolves.
  11. Whisk in confectioners’ sugar, cream, vanilla and salt until you’ve got a thick glaze with the texture of hot fudge sauce.
  12. Spread this over the cooled cake. Let the glaze set for at least 2 hours before serving.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Whole Wheat-Bartlett Pear Crumb Cake

This cake was nutty, earthy, and really really moist. The entire house smelled absolutely incredible while it baked- much of the credit should be given to the orange zest in the batter. Even more wonderful orange flavor was added after the cake was removed from the oven when fresh orange juice was drizzled all over the top. Fabulous!

This recipe was adapted from Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes from our Kitchen by Zoe Nathan with Josh Loeb and Laurel Almerinda. I weighed whole roasted almonds and then finely ground them in a mini food processor instead of using store-bought almond flour. I used fat-free Greek yogurt instead of whole plain yogurt. I also substituted oat bran for the toasted wheat germ in the original recipe. Wheat bran or ground flaxseed would also work as substitutes. I also baked the cake in a 9-inch springform pan instead of a 10-inch cake pan.

The authors offer seasonal adaptations to this recipe by substituting blueberries, raspberries, cranberries, apricots, peaches, or figs for the pears. Yummy!

Yield: Makes one 9-inch cake

For the Topping:

  • 1/2 cup (110 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 55 g (1/2 cup plus 2 T) almond flour
  • 20 g (1/4 cup plus 2 T) rolled oats
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 30 g (1/4 cup) whole wheat flour
  • 3 T all-purpose flour
  • 2 T oat bran, toasted wheat germ, wheat bran, or ground flaxseed
  • 2 T light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 20 g (1/4 cup) sliced almonds

For the Cake:

  • 170 g (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
  • 200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 T light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 160 g (1 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 55 g (3/4 cup) oat bran, toasted wheat germ, wheat bran, or ground flaxseed
  • 25 g (1/4 cup) almond flour
  • 3 T rye flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup (240 ml) plain yogurt (I used fat-free Greek yogurt)
  • zest of 1 orange, *fruit reserved*
  • 3 pears, peeled and thickly sliced into 6 pieces each (I used Bartlett pears)

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To Make the Topping:

  1. In a medium bowl, combine the butter, almond flour, oats, granulated sugar, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, wheat germ, brown sugar, and salt. Blend with a pastry blender until homogenous.
  2. Add sliced almonds and blend with your fingers. Refrigerate until needed.

To Make the Cake:

  1. Position a rack in the middle of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Line and grease a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper and cooking spray.
  2. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  3. Incorporate the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl well.
  4. Pause mixing and all the all-purpose flour, wheat germ, almond flour, rye flour, baking powder, baking soda, yogurt, and orange zest. Mix cautiously, just until incorporated. Do not over mix!
  5. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and cover evenly with the pears.
  6. Top with the crumble, allowing a little fruit to poke through.
  7. Bake for 1 hour 5 minutes or up to 1 hour 15 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Do not over bake!
  8. Allow to cool for 15 minutes in the pan; then squeeze the orange over the entire cake.
  9. Remove the side of the pan and gently pull the parchment paper from every nook and cranny of the cake.

Note: This cake is best served the day it is made, but it will keep, tightly wrapped, for up to 2 days at room temperature.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Mini Pear & Blueberry Upside-Down Cakes

My daughter has been asking for an upside-down cake! When I spotted this seasonal recipe, and had all of the ingredients on hand, I made it to surprise her. 🙂 A springtime spice cake was such a nice change of pace. The spices worked nicely with the blueberries and pears too. The mini size was just the icing on the cake. 😉

This recipe was adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The New Classics. I used my pretty Daisy cupcake pan- so pretty!

I’m bringing this tasty dessert to share with my friends at Fiesta Friday #72– hosted by Quinn @ Dad Whats for Dinner and Naina @ Spice in the City. Enjoy!!

Yield: 6 small cakes

  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for tin
  • 6 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 12 teaspoons packed light-brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup fresh blueberries, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 ripe Bartlett pear, halved lengthwise, cored, and cut into thin wedges
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice (I used freshly ground)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large whole egg, plus 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

IMG_4281

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees on convection.
  2. Generously butter the cups and top of a muffin tin with six 8-ounce cups. (My 8-ounce cup muffin pan is a Daisy Pan! I used cooking spray instead of butter to coat the details more easily.)
  3. Place 1 teaspoon butter in each muffin cup. Top each with 1 tablespoon corn syrup; sprinkle with 2 teaspoons light-brown sugar.
  4. Arrange 7 to 9 blueberries in each cup.
  5. Cut pear slices to fit the shape of muffin cups; place 4 or 5 pieces on top of the berries, spreading slices to cover berries.
  6. Arrange remaining berries over the pears, and set tin aside. (I didn’t have leftover berries!)
  7. Into a small bowl, sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and ginger; set aside.
  8. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat granulated sugar and remaining 5 tablespoons butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk; beat until smooth.
  9. Combine the vanilla with the buttermilk.
  10. With mixer on low-speed, add flour mixture to butter mixture in two batches, alternating with the buttermilk mixture, and beginning and ending with flour.
  11. Pour 1/3 cup batter over fruit in each muffin cup. Gently tap bottom of tin against counter several times to evenly distribute the batter.
  12. Bake cakes until golden around the edges and a cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 17 minutes on convection, or up to 25 minutes in a standard oven. Remove from oven; let cool in tin.

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One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Green Smoothies!

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My sweet husband gave me a Vitamix blender for Christmas even though he was a little bit scared about being served green shakes for breakfast (& possibly even lunch too!). These smoothies are “green” but contain tons of fruit so they are sweet enough to transition even the skeptics out there. A great way to start a healthy 2015!! 🙂

My preference is for room temperature concoctions- the flavors really shine. The Orange Smoothie (above) is my favorite. It is unbelievably creamy with just a hint of cinnamon. The recipe is from celebrity trainer Tracy Anderson, via popsugar.com. Green and yummy!!

Orange Smoothie

Yield: 1 large or 2 small smoothies

  • 1 1/2 cups baby spinach
  • 3 oranges, peeled
  • 1 medjool date, pitted
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  1. Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend until desired consistency. (I used the Smoothies setting on the Vitamix.) Enjoy immediately.

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This super creamy, fluffy, and silky smooth smoothie is my husband’s absolute favorite. It is delicious and filling. This recipe was adapted from Food 52, contributed by Gena Hamshaw.

Avocado Smoothie

Yield: 1 large or 2 small smoothies (4 smoothies of the size pictured above)

  • 1 banana, peeled, room temperature or frozen
  • 1/2 cup mango, fresh or frozen
  • 1/2 small or medium avocado
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 1/4 cups milk (almond, soy, oat, rice, or cow milk)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Place all smoothie ingredients in your blender and blend till very smooth and creamy. Add a little more milk as needed, or a few ice cubes if you want it to be frostier. (I used the Smoothies setting on the Vitamix.) Enjoy immediately.

IMG_1923

In the cold weather, this pear smoothie was perfect made with a room temperature banana; I may prefer it with a frozen banana in warmer weather though. Perfect this time of year when delicious apples and pears are so readily available. So tasty! This recipe was adapted from LoveandLentils.com.

Pear-Spinach Smoothie

Yield: 1 large (giant!) or 2 small/medium smoothies

  • 1 cup milk (almond, soy, oat, rice, or cow milk)
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 forelle pear (or any small pear will do) (I used half of a large d’Anjou pear)
  • 1 banana, fresh or frozen but preferably frozen
  • 1/2 a small apple (I used a pink lady)
  • 1 medjool date, pitted
  1. Add all of the ingredients into your blender and blend at high speed until smooth. (I used the Smoothies setting on the Vitamix.) Enjoy immediately.

IMG_1914

This smoothie is tangy and loaded with raspberries. My son even approved! It is less creamy than the others but very fresh and frosty. This recipe is from Vitamix.

Ruby Emerald Smoothie

Yield: 1 large or 2 small smoothies

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 1 cup (150 g) red grapes
  • 1 medium apple (5 1/2 oz/156 g), quartered, seeded
  • 1 cup (65 g) coarsely chopped fresh kale, spine and stem removed
  • 1 cup (140 g) frozen unsweetened raspberries
  1. Place all ingredients into the blender (or Vitamix) in the order listed. Process on high speed or on the Smoothies setting. Enjoy immediately.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pears and Pistachios

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Brussels sprouts on their stalks are completely irresistible to me. My husband isn’t a fan, so when my mom comes to visit I make them for us. This year my mother-in-law was here to gobble them up as well! This roasted version was a wonderful side dish- absolutely fabulous with the sweetness of the pears and the crunchiness of the nuts. This recipe was adapted from Bevi of Food 52, via A Pug in the Kitchen. This is definitely my new go-to brussels sprouts recipe. Delicious.

Yield: Serves 4 to 6 as a side dish

  • 2 pounds brussels sprouts (from 1 large stalk), halved lengthwise
  • 4 T olive oil
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 to 2 Bosc pears, halved lengthwise and cored
  • 1/4 cup shelled pistachios, chopped coarsely (I used salted)
  • Juice of 1/2 large lemon
  1. Preheat oven to 425° F (convection roast). Place the prepared brussels sprouts on two parchment-lined baking sheets and pour on the olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix with clean hands. Place the pear halves, cut sides-down, on one of the baking sheets, making sure there is enough oil to coat their cut surfaces.
  2. Roast the brussels sprouts and pears for about 15 minutes. Then turn the brussels sprouts with a metal spatula so that both sides will get caramelized. Check the pear — it many not be caramelized at this point. Alternate the position of the pans and continue to roast another 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Reduce the oven heat to 375° F. Add the pistachios and roast an additional 5 minutes to lightly toast them.
  4. Remove the baking sheet from the oven. Squeeze lemon juice directly over all the ingredients. Chop the pear halves. Toss everything thoroughly, check the seasoning, and serve on a platter or in a bowl.

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One Year Ago:

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