Chocolate Pear Tart

crab apple blossoms

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…

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
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease a 9 inch tart pan, set aside.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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. 
Enjoy!

Berry Mascarpone Almond Tart

Berry Mascarpone Tart

I’ll Have What She’s Having turns two years old this week. To be honest, I never really thought I would still be blogging at this point. I’m one of those people who moves from obsession to obsession, leaving past ones behind without much thought or regret. I think what keeps food blogging interesting for me is that it continually challenges me to learn new things. In these two years I’ve learned more about photography than I ever would have without this blog, and there is still so much to learn.
In the coming year I want to challenge myself to expand my culinary skills as well as my photography skills. I want to try new cooking techniques, attempt dishes that are “scary” (chocolate soufflé, I’m looking at you), and experiment with flavours that I normally wouldn’t use. A friend of mine recently told me that she enjoys my “style” of desserts because I tend to make things she wouldn’t normally make. I want to take that even further.

Berry Mascarpone Tart

The biggest thing that keeps me going is the responses I get from readers. Your comments encourage me, inspire me, and push me to make What She’s Having better and better. Thank you.
On the topic of comments, WordPress recently made some changes to their commenting platform. Those of you who try to comment using an email address that is linked to a WordPress or Gravatar account will have to log into your accounts before leaving a comment. This change was in response to some cases of Gravatars being hijacked for trolling. Although I understand that something needed to be done, the response was kind of like using a sledgehammer to fix a splinter. I’ve removed the requirement to leave an email address when commenting so that those of you who do not want to log don’t have to. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I won’t end up with too much spam.

Berry Mascarpone Tart

To celebrate my blogaversary, I made this Berry Mascarpone Almond Tart. It’s similar to this one I made last summer except that this time the recipe came together without any drama. The crust has a nice crunch to it from the almonds, and it’s easy to cut through. The filling is similar to a no bake cheesecake filling, creamy and rich. The amaretto flavours works really well with the berries.

Berry Mascarpone Almond Tart
Adapted from Desserts for Breakfast

Pastry Crust

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup almond flour
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2-4 tbsp. ice water

Mascarpone Filling

  • 400 grams mascarpone at room temperature
  • 2 tbsp. icing sugar
  • 2 tbsp. amaretto
  • ½ cup whipping cream

Berry Topping

  • 2 cups mixed berries, cleaned
  • 2 tbsp. seedless raspberry jam

1.  Make the pastry crust: In a large bowl mix the flour, almond flour and salt together. Add the butter. Using your finger tips or a pastry cutter, rub the butter into the flour until it forms pea sized pieces of butter and holds together when squeezed. Mix in the egg yolk, and just enough water to bring the dough together. Form the dough into a disk, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Once chilled, roll out the dough to ¼ inch thick and place in a 9 inch tart pan; dock the crust (poke holes with a fork). Refrigerate the crust for 1 hour. Preheat the oven to 400F. Place a sheet of parchment paper on the crust and cover with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 13-15 minutes, remove the pie weights and parchment and bake for an additional 3-5 minutes. Let cool completely.
2.  Make the filling: In a medium bowl, beat the mascarpone and a tablespoon of the cream together using a hand held mixer until the mascarpone is softened. Beat in the sugar and amaretto. In a separate bowl whip the cream. Fold the whipped cream into the mascarpone. Pour into the chilled tart crust.
3.  Make the berry topping: In a microwave safe bowl heat the jelly until it liquefies (about 30 seconds). Toss the berries with the jelly. Pour over the mascarpone filling. Chill the tart for at least 1 hour before serving.
Enjoy!

Poached Pear and Custard Tart

Money money money money, MONEY.

I’m currently on a wordpress.com blog, which means that even though I own my domain my terms of service do not allow me to advertise. Those of you who don’t have ad blockers might be scratching your heads right now because you see an ad asking you how old you think Javier Bardem is. Those ads are not mine: wordpress is advertising on my blog.

I’ve considered monetizing my blog before, but given the cost of self hosting I’ve always decided against it. My trafiic is pretty low and I know I won’t make a profit. Now that I’ve realized wordpress is making money off of me I’m starting to reconsider. I’m not doing this to make a profit, but I don’t like that someone else is reaping the rewards of my work.

Have any of you made the switch to self hosting? I’d love to hear any tips or recommendations you might have. I’d also love to hear opinions on the different advertising networks out there. Is it worth putting myself on a waiting list for Blogher? Are there any other good networks out there?

None of this has anything to do with the recipe I’m sharing today. I made this tart for a dinner with some friends. She loves pears, he loves custard, and their son just loves desserts. This tart had their names all over it.  I really enjoyed the poached pears with the custard, poaching them with =cinnamon gave the tart an extra dimension of flavour.

I was a little worried that the crust would take longer to bake than the custard, but it worked out pretty well. I would have preferred that the crust be a little crisper, the texture I ended up with was almost cake like, probably because of the baking powder in the dough. Next time I think I’ll try with an unsweetened crust and blind bake it for a few minutes first.

Poached Pear and Custard Custart Tart

Pastry Dough

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp milk (if necessary)
  1. In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Add the butter, then using your fingers rub the butter into the flour until there are just a few small pieces of butter left and the mixture holds together when squeezed. Add the egg, stirring in with a fork. Stir until the dough comes together, adding the milk if necessary.
  2. With your hands form a ball with the dough then flatten it into a disk. Cover in plastic wrap a refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. Dough will keep for three days in the fridge or can be frozen in an airtight bag.
Poached Pears
  • 4 large pears, peeled, halved and cored (melon ballers work well for coring pears)
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  1. Place the pears in medium pot. Cover with cold water, then add the sugar and cinnamon stick. Place over medium heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling turn off the heat and let pears cool completely in the poaching liquid.
Poached Pear and Custard Tart
  • Sweet pastry dough
  • Poached Pears
  • 3 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp liquid honey
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Icing sugar to top tart
  1. Preheat the oven to 325F
  2. Roll out the pastry dough till it’s large enough to fill a 9 inch tart pan. Place the dough snugly in the pan, trim off the edges. Arranged the poached pears on the dough.
  3. In  medium bowl, whisk the flour sugar and eggs together. Stir in the vanilla. Add the milk mixing until well combined. Skim off any bubbles then pour around the pears.
  4. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the filling is set.
  5. Mix the honey and lemon juice together, using a pastry brush glaze the pears with honey mixture.
  6. Sprinkle with icing sugar.
  7. Let cool completely and serve at room temperature.
Enjoy!

Tomato and Courgette Tart

September has what I’d call a split personality. Even though I haven’t been in school for quite awhile it feels like the beginning of a new year, a time for fresh starts and new shoes. It’s full of excitement and possibilities.

At the same time when September rolls in there’s a feeling that something is coming to an end. Night falls a little earlier every day, the temperature starts to drop. That carefree feeling that summer brings starts to slip away. When I feel it going I do whatever I can to hold on to it even tighter.

This summer hasn’t been all that care free for me. We’ve been short staffed for months, which led to long days with no time for breaks and sometimes no time to eat. On top of that a new VP for my division has once again brought a sense of uncertainty to the office. We’ve been “restructuring” for so long I can’t remember what structured felt like. All of this meant I was counting down the days to my vacation. It finally began yesterday. My intention was to sleep in, but my body had other plans so I was up pretty early.

I headed out to the Farmers Market in St-Anne-de-Bellevue and picked up some gorgeous cherry tomatoes.  I just discovered the market recently. It’s in a beautiful spot along a boardwalk. As you choose you vegetables you can look up and see the water. Shopping at a market has completely different feel than going to a grocery store. The vendors are all passionate about their products, the shoppers are all happy to be there. People are relaxed and smiling. It’s much more pleasant than the hustle and bustle of large grocery store on a Saturday morning.

The photo above has a combination of market tomatoes and some from my parents garden. Tomatoes fresh off the vine taste like sunshine (true story). I’ve been eating as many as I can while I can. I’ve been thinking about a tomato tart since the beginning of tomato season; once September rolled around I realized I was running out of time to make it. I stopped myself from eating all of the tomatoes and put this together. The top layer has tomato and yellow zucchini slices. Underneath that you’ll find a layer of caramelized onions and garlic, and finally there’s a layer of goat cheese and ricotta.

I was really happy with the way this tart turned out. The dough has a little corn flour in it, which I think helped it stand up to all the wet ingredients. Even the next day the crust was still crisp. The onion layer added some depth to the flavour and was a great compliment to the tomato and zucchini.  I was going garnish the tart with some fresh basil but completely forgot. It wasn’t necessary but I think it would have added a nice touch.

Although the recipe is not difficult, it does take some time to put together. There are two chilling times for the crust, 30 minutes to blind bake the crust and then another 40 minutes of baking time. To save time, the dough can be made up to 24 hours in advance and refrigerated, or frozen for a week or two.

Tomato and Courgette Tart

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup corn flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into cubes
  • 1/4 cup  plain yogurt
  • 1/4  ice water
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 200 g ricotta
  • 350 g goat cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced
  • 1 yellow zucchini, sliced
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper
  1. Make the crust: In a large bowl mix the flours, 1/2 tsp salt, sugar, and thyme together. Using a pastry cutter or your finger tips, cut the butter into the flour until it hold together when squeezed and there pea sized pieces of butter. Mix in the yogurt and ice water. The dough should come together, add more water if necessary. Shape the dough into a disk and refrigerate for at least one hour, or overnight. On a lightly floured surface roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Place in a 9 inch tart pan and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cover the dough with foil then place dried beans or pie weights on top. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes.
  2. While the crust is baking, cook the onions. In a large pan on medium heat some olive oil then add the onion slices. Lower the heat and stir the onions until they start to brown. Add the balsamic vinegar and continue cooking. Once the onions are browned add the minced garlic, salt and pepper. Cook two to three minutes longer.
  3. In a bowl, mix the ricotta, goat cheese and egg. Season with salt and pepper and 1/2 tsp basil.
  4. Once the tart crust is done remove the foil and the weights. Pour the cheese mixture into the crust, cover the cheese with the onion mixture, the layer the tomato and zucchini on the onion. Brush the tomato and zucchini with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and the remaining dried basil.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Enjoy!

Strawberry Ricotta Streusel Tart

All over the blog world, people are writing about cooking and baking with fresh, local, Spring produce. Here, the grass just turned green about 2 days ago. Fresh produce is still a few weeks away. The posts I’ve been reading from points south of here had me longing for fresh strawberries. The giant California strawberries we get all year here just weren’t going to cut it. Compared to a Quebec strawberry, the California ones are quite bland. I’m sure it has something to do with the shipping. How could a berry travel so far and still taste good?

Instead of patiently waiting, I opened up my last jar of homemade strawberry jam and started to experiment. In the past I haven’t done much inventing, but I have to say this was a lot of fun. I actually put my face right up to the oven window as it baked; I was so excited to try it.

What I decided to make was a strawberry and ricotta tart with a streusel topping. I have to say it turned out pretty darn good. The jam added a great hit of strawberry flavour, the cheese layer was surprisingly light, and the almond meal in the crust added a really nice texture. Next time I might add a little cream cheese to the cheese to give it a little tang.

Strawberry Ricotta Streusel Tart

Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup almond meal
  • 1/2 cup butter, chilled and cut into cubes
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg

Topping:

  • 1 cup strawberry jam (or jam of your choice)
  • 550 g ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 eggs
  1. Make the crust: In a large bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, sugar, salt, and almond meal together. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut/rub the butter into the flour until the mixture just holds together when squeezed and there are no large chunks of butter. Add the vanilla and the egg, stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture just comes together.
  2. Press half the dough into a greased 9 inch tart pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Wrap the remaining dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
  3. Make the cheese filling. Place the ricotta, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and eggs in large bowl. Stir until well combined.
  4. Once the dough crust has chilled, spread the jam over the crust. Top with the cheese mixture. Crumble the remaining dough over the cheese. Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F, bake for 40 minutes until golden. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
Enjoy!

I’ll Have What She’s Having

Sally Albright: But I’d like the pie heated and I don’t want the ice cream on top, I want it on the side, and I’d like strawberry instead of vanilla if you have it, if not then no ice cream just whipped cream but only if it’s real; if it’s out of the can then nothing.

Waitress: Not even the pie?

Sally Albright: No, I want the pie, but then not heated.

My favourite movie ever: When Harry Met Sally. I laugh and cry every time I watch it (which is surprisingly often). I was very sad to discover the domain “whatsheshaving” is already taken. You better have a good blog, whoever you are! Thankfully, this is a movie that has many food moments to choose from, including the ordering of pie.

In an ideal world, I would have a pie to show. But I don’t. Instead I have an amaretto cheese tart for you. This is one of my favourite recipes, and it’s incredibly easy to make.

This time I made it for Nelson’s birthday plus 37 days. I’m a little late, but I think he’ll forgive me. Now all I have to do is figure out how I’m going to get it to the office…

Amaretto Cheese Tart

Crust

3 cups Amaretti cookie, crumbled (easiest if done in a food processor)

1/4 cup sugar

1 cup butter

Filling

250 g cream cheese, softened

250 g mascarpone, softened

1/2 cup sugar

3 eggs

1/4 cup Amaretto

Preheat oven to 350. Combine amaretti crumbs with sugar and butter. Press into a 9 inch tart pan, making sure to push the crumbs up the side of the pan. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. (Update, some people had issues with butter dripping out of the tart pan, so it may be best to use a pie pan)

While the crust is baking, beat the cheeses and sugar until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each is added. Add the amaretto.

Fill the tart shell with the filling and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Let cool, then refrigerate overnight.

Enjoy!