Posts tagged with tarts:

French Pear Tart

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This French Pear Tart which I served at my recent brunch is simply an adaptation of Ina Garten,The Barefoot Contessa’s French Apple Tart which I have made numerous times.

I had bought a large bag of Forelle Pears when I spotted them at Costco on a recent visit.  I first tasted them several years ago, and was hooked. 

Forelle pears are not as well known as your Bartlett, Bosc, or Anjou, but they are more beautiful, every bit as delicious, and when ripe, they are as sweet as they come and yet still crunchy and juicy at the same time.

Their small size makes them perfect for snacking, adding to a salad, or serving with an assortment of cheeses.

They are actually perfect for a tart because their firmness keeps them from getting too mushy when baked.

I had enough left after snacking on them all week to use them in place of the apples in Ina’s recipe for the French Apple Tart.

This is the dessert to try whether using apples or pears, because even the most baking phobic among us will find success.

By using store bought puff pastry which you will find in the freezer section of most good grocery stores, and a few other simple ingredients you can create  this fantastic tart that your guests will think you purchased at a French bakery.

French Pear Tart (adapted from Ina Garten’s French Apple Tart, Back to Basics)

-one sheet frozen puff pastry, defrosted according to manufacturer’s directions 
(I prefer Dufour’s, which can be found in better grocery stores, but Pepperidge Farm or Trader Joe’s will also do)
Note: Dufour’s is larger so you can roll it out to a 10” by 14 “rectangle.  If using the others they are usually packaged 2 smaller ones to a package so you will just use one and roll it out to a 10 and1/2” by 10 and 1/2” square.

8 -10 Forelle pears
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold unsalted butter, small diced
1/2 cup apricot jelly or warm sieved apricot jam
2 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

Roll the dough slightly larger than 10 by 14-inches. Using a ruler and a small knife, trim the edges if necessary. Place the dough on the prepared sheet pan and refrigerate while you prepare the pears.

Peel the pears and cut them in half through the stem. Remove the stems and cores with a sharp knife and a melon baler.
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Slice the pears crosswise in 1/4-inch thick slices. Place overlapping slices of pears diagonally down the middle of the tart and continue making diagonal rows on both sides of the first row until the pastry is covered with pear slices. (I tend not to use the end slices in order to make the arrangement beautiful.) Sprinkle with the full 1/2 cup of sugar and dot with the butter.

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Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until the pastry is browned and the edges of the pears start to brown.

Rotate the pan once during cooking. If the pastry puffs up in one area, cut a little slit with a knife to let the air out. Don’t worry! The juices will burn in the pan but the tart will be fine!
When the tart’s done, heat the apricot jelly or jam together with the  water and brush the pears and the pastry completely with the jelly mixture.
Loosen the tart with a metal spatula so it doesn’t stick to the paper. Allow to cool and serve warm or at room temperature.
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And pat yourself on the back!

Meyer Lemon Curd Tartlets

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One of the things I love to do most in the kitchen is to take left-overs and re-purpose them.  In other words, use it in a different way than originally intended.

Case in point:  the Meyer Lemon Curd Tartlets pictured above.

I love making Meyer Lemon Curd whenever I find Meyer lemons available.  A small jar  makes a great house gift at the holidays.

It is also delicious on scones or toast for breakfast or brunch or served with berries as a light dessert.  Or serve it with gingersnaps for dipping and a bowl of berries on the side like my sister did.

Yesterday I decided to make these tartlets with what remained of the Meyer Lemon Curd in my fridge.  I had a vision of these mini lemon meringue pies in my mind, and since it is my husband’s favorite dessert, decided to give it a try.

The most time consuming part was already done, making the filling , which in this case was the Meyer Lemon Curd.  So with a simple cookie crust and a meringue topping  in no time at all my remaining Meyer Lemon Curd reinvented itself as these wonderful  mini tarts.

Fortunately I had the mini tart pans. You could use a number of sizes, but mine are 3 and 1/2 inches. I only made 5 because that’s how far I stretched the cookie crust recipe designed for one 8 or 9 -inch tart pan, and there was enough lemon curd for 5 small tarts.

They were the perfect ending to our dinner of salmon and couscous last night and if i don’t get to them before there will still be one for each of us tonight!

Meyer Lemon Curd Tartlets

Meyer Lemon Curd

Cookie Crust  (from www.joyofbaking.com- recipe follows)

Meringue (recipe follows)

Cookie Crust Recipe  (makes 1 8 or 9-inch tart, or 5 - 3and 1/2 -inch tartlets)

1 cup all purpose flour

1/3 cup confectioners sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup cold, unsalted butter, cut into pieces

In your food processor place the flour, sugar, and salt and process to combine.  Add the butter and pulse until the pastry starts to come together and form clumps.

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Place the pastry in the (lightly buttered or sprayed) tart pan (with removable bottom) and, using your fingertips, evenly press the pastry onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. (Can use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface of the pastry.) 

Pierce the bottom of the crust with the tines of a fork. (This will prevent the pastry crust from puffing up while it bakes.)

Cover and place the pastry in the freezer for 15 minutes to chill. (This will help prevent the crust from shrinking while it bakes.)

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Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and place rack in center of oven.

When the pastry is completely chilled, place the tart pan on a larger baking sheet and bake until the crust is golden brown, about 13-15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.

When cool, fill the tarts with the Meyer Lemon Curd, leaving some room for the meringue topping.

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Make the meringue

Perfect Meringue For Topping Pies (Farm Journal’s Complete Pie Cookbook)

Here is the basic recipe for an 8, 9, or 10-inch pie or tart

For 8 ” Pie

2 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup sugar

For 9” Pie

3 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

6 tablespoons sugar

For 10” Pie

4 egg whites

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup sugar

Have egg whites at room temperature to obtain greatest volume.  Place them in a medium bowl with cream of tartar, salt and vanilla.

Beat with electric or hand beater, at medium speed, until entire mixture is frothy.  Do not beat until eggs stiffen.

Add sugar, a little at a time, beating well after each addition.  Do not under-beat.  Beat until sugar dissolves to help prevent beading (those brown syrup drops on top).

To test, rub some of the meringue between your fingers to see if it’s still grainy. (The grains are undissolved sugar.)

Continue to beat until stiff, and pointed peaks form when you life the beater slowly.

Place spoonfuls (or pipe them on with a pastry bag) of meringue around edge of pie or tart filling, spreading it so it touches inner edge of crust to seal all around.  This prevents shrinkage.

Pile the remainder of meringue in center of pie and spread to meet meringue around edge.  If the filling is not covered completely, the oven heat may cause it to weep.  Lift up meringue over pie in points with the back of a teaspoon.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until meringue peaks are golden brown.  Too long baking may cause weeping.  Cool gradually away from drafts.

Note:  You can substitute 1 teaspoon lemon juice for cream of tartar when making meringues for lemon, lime, and orange pies.  The acid in the juice gives the same result-a wonderful meringue!

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