Monday, January 14, 2008
Cooking Class Treats
Even though my students and I discuss menus beforehand, I very much enjoy making a little something myself prior to a cooking class- as a surprise. Sometimes it's pretty simple, like a nice dip to go with chopped raw veggies, and sometimes it might be a little more elegant, perhaps a dessert to finish off the lesson on a sweet note. The element of surprise seems to be very much appreciated and I'm always very flattered when I end up writing the recipe for them to take home afterwards.
Last Friday I opted for a both simple and elegant dessert in the form of a delicately sweet pear tart. I came up with the recipe the night before and got busy on it early the next morning, hoping for the best and allowing myself some time for any little mishaps or full- blown kitchen disasters. I'm happy to report that the tart came out very much to my liking (and to my student's who ended up going home with a a few generous slices).
I made the tart using the "king of pears", the flavorful and very aromatic Doyenne du Comice- my absolute favorite. The custard was made with crème fraîche and spiked with a touch of rum for a little bit of a kick. Serve the tart cold to really enjoy its classic, clean flavor.
Here's the recipe:
Simple Yet Elegant Pear Tart
For the pastry: (enough for a 28cm tart pan)
*pinch of salt
*150g cold butter, cut into small squares
*1 egg yolk, whisked
*3-4 tbsps ice water
*2 tbsps bread crumbs
Put the flour, salt and butter in the food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and 1 tablespoon of the ice water and pulse again. Add the other two tablespoons of water, one by one, pulsing after each addition. The dough should come together after the third tablespoon has been added, but if that's not the case, add a little more water. Remove the dough from the bowl and gather it into a fat disk. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for at least thirty minutes. Take it out of the fridge about five minutes before using it. Prepare a 28cm tart pan and roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface into a circle with a circumference of about 32cm and a thickness of about 3mm. Transfer the pastry to the prepared tart pan and refrigerate it again for thirty minutes. Preheat the oven to 220C and blind- bake the crust for 12 minutes. Remove the weights and bake for a further three minutes. Sprinkle the crust with the breadcrumbs and proceed with the rest of the recipe.
For the filing:
*550g Doyenne du Comice pears, about 2 large pears
*400ml crème fraîche
*2 eggs, whisked
*1 tsp ground cinnamon
*2 tbsps rum
*100g unrefined brown sugar
Preheat oven to 220C. Peel and core the pears and cut them in half. Cut each half into slices, not too thick and not too thin. Arrange the slices on the crust in a wheel pattern. Bake the pears in the crust for 10 minutes. Make the custard by beating the crème fraîche together with the eggs, the cinnamon, the rum and the sugar. Pour the custard over the pears, cover the pan loosely with tin foil and and bake it for a further 40 minutes. Remove the foil and allow the tart to bake 10 more minutes. Let the tart cool completely on a rack before serving. Best served chilled.