With fall starting and the holidays right around the corner, I have been busy in the kitchen testing recipes. I'm trying to get some new ones out there to the public so that you can start planning that Thanksgiving menu or Halloween special dessert. I'm not trying to send you into a state of panic. You do have time still. You do. You really do. However, one of us has to do the finding and testing AND tasting before the holiday planning is upon us in order to make life easier for you. Consider it a public service.
The family is not exactly heartbroken at the task set in front of them. All they really have to do is eat. Earlier in the week I tested pumpkin doughnuts, baked and fried. Their job was to sample and choose which version was best. Who wouldn't want that challenge? Crazy people, that's who. In the end, fried ruled the day (are you surprised?). I wasn't quite satisfied with the recipe, and that is why you are not seeing it today. They were good but not exactly what I was looking for. Back to the kitchen I will go.
Meantime, I did come across a wonderful idea for a tart that won over every single member in my household, excluding the youngest who tells me that he is "not a pie person". Whatever. The recipe that inspired me is on the current cover of Fine Cooking magazine,
Salted Carmel Apple-Pear Tart. I had just overloaded my basket with pears and apples from the farm stand and I needed to do something with them before heading out of town at the end of the week. Since Gary and Madison are pie people, I thought I'd try my hand at this gorgeous tart.
I made a few changes and skipped the caramel sauce, although I am certain it is just as delicious as the recipe in Fine Cooking. Instead, I made a a brown sugar and butter mixture without the cream but still giving the fruit a nice buttery finish inside. The best feature of the tart is the crust. The original recipe calls for hazelnut meal. Having none on hand, I used almond meal, which can be easily found at places like Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. And, what a difference adding nut meal to your flour! It's like grinding almonds right into the pastry, giving your crust the faintest hint of almond which of course pairs perfectly with the sweet apples and pears. The addition of the cardamom is also a nice, subtle touch to the flavor. You'd expect to find cinnamon, but I really dig that sweet cardamom flavor even better.
Now, I know my tart is not as pretty as the professionals at
Fine Cooking.. I also know they probably made several before taking their pictures. However, I do think mine still came out pretty enough. And, I do know it tastes plenty good enough.
Adapted from Fine Cooking's Oct/Nov 2014 issue:
For a print-friendly version of the recipe, click:
For the dough
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour; little extra for dusting
1/2 cup almond meal
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
3/4 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes, preferably European-Style
5 Tablespoons ice water
For the sauce
1/4 cup light brown sugar
2 Tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon kosher salt
For the filling
2 sweet apples (I used Honey Crisp), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
2 medium-ripe pears (I used Bartlett pears), peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
Pinch of kosher salt
1 large egg yolk
1 Tablespoon water
1 Tablespoon Turbinado Sugar
For the Dough: In a food processor, pulse the flour, almond meal, sugar, and salt to blend. Add the cubed butter pieces until the butter looks like tiny peas. With processor on, slowly add the water into the shoot until it forms a loose ball. Split the dough in two. Shape each ball into a flat six-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled, at least 1 hour and up to 24 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. When ready to prepare the crust, remove one disk from the fridge. Allow it to warm up a bit, about 10 minutes, in order to make it easier to roll without splitting. Coat with cooking spray a 9 to 9 1/2 inch fluted tart pan with a removable bottom.
Lightly dust a working surface and sprinkle the top of your disk with flour. Roll the dough out to a 12 inch diameter. Using your rolling pin, wrap the dough around it and transfer carefully to your tart pan. Press the dough into the fluted edges and then roll your rolling pin across the top in order to neatly cut the excess edges off. Stick in the fridge until you are ready to fill.
For the filling:
Prepare and slice your apples and pears. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle with flour, salt, and cardamom. Fill the tart shell with with apples and pears.
In a small sauce pan, melt two tablespoons of butter. Stir in brown sugar. Cook over low heat until the mixture becomes smooth and the sugar has melted. Pour mixture over the apples and pears in the tart.
Remove second disk from refrigerator and let it warm up a bit. When ready, roll the dough to about a 10-inch diameter. Using a pizza cutter, cut the dough into 7 one-inch strips. Mix the egg yolk and water together. Using a pastry brush, brush each strip with the egg wash. Sprinkle turbinado sugar over each strip.
Carefully, lift three strips and place on top of your fruit mixture for the first layer of strips. Then, place the next four across the first strips in a lattice pattern, cinching the ends into the bottom dough to seal.
Bake the tart on a heated cookie sheet until the filling is bubbling and the crust is golden brown for 40 to 45 minutes. Allow the tart to cool completely before serving.