For a few days every Spring, the crab apple tree in my parents backyard blooms with the prettiest pink flowers. After a day or two, petals start showering down until there is just one little flower left. The backyard is like a little sanctuary; surrounded by trees on all one could almost think they were in the country. Almost. I like to sit out there on the weekends with a nice cup of coffee and just enjoy the weekend, it helps take the stress of the week away.
My doctor recently told me to try not to stress. Easier said than done. He also told me to cut back on caffeine. He then went on to list things that have caffeine in them; coffee, tea, soda, chocolate…
I know that chocolate has caffeine in it, but the idea of taking chocolate out of my life as a way to reduce stress just seems like madness to me. So I have decided to selectively follow his advice. I don’t eat that much chocolate, but I’m not prepared to give up what I do have.
This tart wasn’t made to intentional defy the doctors orders, but he may have put the idea of chocolate into my head. I was flipping through Martha Stewart’s New Pies and Tarts, when I came across this recipe. I had all the ingredients and it looked really easy and quick to put together so I figured I’d give it a try. I was right, it was really easy to put together, but I’m not sure it could be made without a food processor. A few drops did drip out of the tart pan, so if you decide to make this placing a baking sheet on the rack below that tart.
Basically a flourless chocolate cake with pears, this tart is intensely chocolatey. The pear and chocolate were a really nice combination, and the almond rounded all the flavours out. I did find it a little too moist, I think some of the juice from the pear seeped into the tart.
Chocolate Pear Tart
Adapted very slightly from Martha Stewart
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup slivered almonds
- 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp almond liqueur
- 3 firm, ripe pears
- 2 tbsp apricot or apple jelly
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9 inch tart pan, set aside.
- In a food processor, combine the almonds and sugar until finely ground. Add the butter, eggs, cocoa, vanilla and almond liqueur. Process until well combined. Pour into the prepared tart pan.
- Peel, core and slice the pears and place them on the tart. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Heat the jelly slightly then brush on the pears. Let the tart set for 20 minutes before removing from the pan.
I heard some news last week that made me very, very sad. Prince William and Kate Middleton are now engaged. With this news the reality that I will never be a princess came crashing down on me. Sure, it’s unlikely that I’d ever meet Prince William, but as long as Kate was just “the girlfriend” there was still hope. That hope is now gone.
So I turned to the food that brings me the most comfort; pie. In this case Pear and Cranberry Hand Pies from Food & Wine Magazine. The recipe calls for store bought all butter puff pastry. I didn’t have any on hand so I decided to make my own. Now before you get all impressed with my mad skills, I used Nick Malgieri’s Quick Puff Pastry recipe from Bake! Although it doesn’t rise as much as a traditional puff pastry, for a recipe like this where height is not required it’s perfect. And it’s as easy to make as a traditional pie crust.
The hand pies are delicious. One bite brought me right back to my usual happy self. And it reminded me that while Prince Harry is a little young for me, he does meet the half my age plus seven criteria.
This is my Magazine Monday submission for this week. Head over to Cream Puffs in Venice every Monday to see what other bloggers have cooked up from their magazine collections
Pear and Cranberry Hand Pies
- 2 pears, cored, peeled and dice into 1/4 inch cubes
- 3/4 cup cranberries
- 1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tbsp for sprinkling
- 1 tbsp all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 pinch ground cinnamon
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 batch of Quick Puff Pastry or a 14 oz package of all butter puff pastry
- 1 egg, beaten
- In a medium bowl, toss the pears, cranberries, sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt together.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry until 1/8 inch thick. Cut out 12 four inch circles.
- Spoon some of the pear filling into the center of half the circles. Brush some of the egg on the edges of the dough, then cover with the remaining circles. Press the edges together making sure they are tightly sealed. Cut slits into the top of each hand pie to let some of the steam escape.
- Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Brush the tops of the hand pies with the egg wash, then bake for about 30 minutes until the crust is a nice golden brown.
I’ve been a bad blogger this week. I just wasn’t at all motivated to write even though I have a backlog of recipes to share. I haven’t been blogging very long, but these things must happen from time to time. I figured it would be better to wait till I actually felt like writing than trying to force myself, blogging is supposed to be an enjoyable experience after all.
So I am now ready to share an amazing ice cream recipe with you all. Since my Daring Bakers experience last month I’ve had homemade ice cream on the brain. When I was given all those pears one of the first things that went through my mind was “how do I turn this into ice cream?”
The internet is a magical place, because when I googled pear ice cream I found this recipe for Pear Caramel Ice Cream. It’s adapted from The Perfect Scoop by David Lebovitz, and it is wonderful. I need to buy the book. I also discovered Herbivoracious, which I’m loving.
I was too busy eating the ice cream to remember to take a picture of it. The only one I have is with a pear upside down cake (recipe coming soon!)
Pear Caramel Ice Cream
- 3 medium-sized ripe pears, peeled, cored, and diced into small pieces
- 3/4 c. + 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
- a few drops of fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbsp rum
- Spread sugar in a large heavy saucepan. Cook on medium heat until the sugar has melted and is amber in colour, stirring occasionally with a heatproof spatula.
- Add the pears and lower the heat. Cook and stir for about 10 minutes. The pears will kind of dissolve into the sugar.
- Remove from the heat and add 1/2 cup of cream. The mixture will bubble up. Add the rest of the cream, salt, lemon juice and rum.
- Let cool to room temperature. Puree the mixture then strain till smooth.
- If using an ice cream maker follow your manufacturers instructions. Otherwise, pour the mixture into a freezer safe dish. Freeze for 30 minutes then use an immersion blender to mix. Repeat every 30 minutes for 2 to 3 hours until the ice cream has the right consistency.
September is a weird month for me. It makes me hope the summer will go on a little longer, but at the same time it has me craving fall foods likes soups and stews. The cooler weather over the last couple of days made it a great time to make a soup. I still had a few pears so I decided to adapt Martha Stewarts Pear and Autumn Vegetable Soup, from the Oct 2006 issue.
I loved the idea of adding pear to the vegetable soup, but I was a little surprised that Martha called for water instead of broth. I also thought the soup could use a little more flavour so I added some sautéed onion as well. The soup is wonderfully satisfying and warming on a cold rainy day. There are a lot of steps in the recipe so it’s a little time-consuming, although most of it is unattended. You can skip the pear garnish and replace with pumpkin seeds, but it does make the soup very pretty. You can also skip roasting the squash and just peel and dice the squash instead.
Pear and Butternut Squash Soup
- 5 medium pears
- 1 butternut squash
- olive oil
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 L low sodium chicken broth (or homemade)
- 1/2 tsp sage
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp heavy cream
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Slice one pear very thinly, using a mandoline. Place slices on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 1 hour till slices are dry. Set aside.
- Heat oven to 400. Slice the butternut squash in half, scoop out the seeds. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour. Once done, scoop the squash out of the skin.
- Peel and core the remaining pears. Cut them into large chucks.
- In a soup pot, saute the onions until translucent. Add the pears, squash, and broth. Bring to a boil, season with sage, salt and pepper, then lower the temperature and simmer for 45 minutes.
- Let the soup cool a bit, then use and immersion blender to puree. Stir in the cream.
- Serve soup with sliced pears as garnish.
I’ll be submitting this to Cream Puffs in Venice for Magazine Mondays. Check out what everyone else has been up to!