Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thanksgiving: Ginger Pear and Cranberry Tart

I have a little tradition of my very own that is centered around Thanksgiving. Each year, I try to make one unique dessert. The tradition started with the Vanilla Sweet Potato Pie with Brown Sugar Pecan crust and keeps evolving. I've not yet done a pumpkin dessert. Crazy, huh? This year's dessert, I taking the cranberries off the menu as a side dish and putting them in the dessert course. Also, adding pears. A fall harvest? Why do apple and pumpkin and pecan get all the love? So, pears it is.

Ginger Pear and Cranberry Tart
For Crust:
1 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup almonds
3 tbs. sugar
1 tbs. candied ginger
1 stick butter
1/3 cup cake flour (not self-rising)
1/2 tsp. Salt
4-5 tbs. Ice water

For Filling:
8-10 red pears, peeled, cored and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 tsp. ground anise
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
2 tbs. candied ginger
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out with back of knife
1/4 tsp. Salt

For the crust, put the almonds in food processor and pulse to chop fine. Add the flours, candied ginger, salt and sugar to the food processor next and pulse to combine. Add cold butter one tablespoon at a time and pulse a few times until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add ice water one tablespoon at a time and pulse just until dough starts to come together. You may not need all the ice water. Less water is best. Try not to overmix. Gather dough into a ball and flatten into a flat disk. Cover in plastic wrap and chill for at least one hour and up to a day.

Roll the dough out between sheets of plastic wrap to about a 14-inch round. Peel off top layer of wrap and then invert dough into tart dish, remove wrap. Trim the edges to fit. Cover crust with plastic wrap. Place dish with crust in the refrigerator to chill while you make filling.

Place rack in bottom third of the oven. Preheat oven to 400°F.

Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray. Very important if you like this pan and do not like scrubbing. Add the sliced pears, 1/2 cup sugar and the candied ginger and toss to combine. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 1-1/2 hours. You will need to check this and turn the pears every 20-30 minutes. You will also wonder, "How will all those pears fit in one tart?" They cook down. A lot. When done, they will be just golden on the edges and the sugar will be syrupy.

Remove from oven and allow to cool. Leave the oven on. In a bowl, combine the cranberries, spices, vanilla bean seeds and salt. Add the cooled pears and what syrup spoons up with them from the baking sheet. You may have some syrup left on the baking sheet, and this is fine. Save it for pancakes. Really.

Toss the filling mixture gently so the pears don't fall apart. Then arrange it in the chilled tart shell. Bake at 400, in the lower third of the oven for about 50-55 minutes, or until the tart dough is just golden brown. Allow to cool to nearly room temperature before serving. You may also make ahead through the baking and put back in the fridge to chill. Then, bake in the oven while everyone is eating (and getting seconds).

This is over the top with some type of alcohol-infused whipped cream. But, vanilla bean gelato works just great by me, and who needs another dish to prepare?

1 comment:

4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle said...

I've just discovered your blog and LOVE it. I'm an expat so it makes sense I'd come and visit your kitchen ;-) Come over and see me in Qatar at 4 kids, 20 suitcases and a beagle. Kirsty (Shamozal)