Thursday, December 15, 2011

Brie and Pear Tart

I have to confess I spent over 7 hours in the kitchen during the Thanksgiving holiday, whipping up sweets I hoped would impress my family.  I ended up with 3 delightful delicacies I was quite proud of. You’ve already seen the first two from my previous posts, so with the last recipe I wanted to make something more savory. I opted for a Brie and Pear Tart that was quite the showstopper. Not only was the tart yummy, dancing on the lines of being sweet AND savory, it was so beautiful to look at. I don’t think I’ve ever made something so pretty that I didn’t want to cut into it!

 I am a huge believer that anything tastes better with cheese. And Brie just happens to be one of my all-time favorite cheeses. This pairing of pear and brie was harmonious. The brie was bright and creamy and had a slight nutty flavor; I could have eaten it in chunks. What makes this recipe so great is it’s quite simple. With a small amount of effort, you end up with this luxurious looking pastry that will assure to turn heads. This would be a beautiful first course or appetizer to share at your Christmas table!

nom. nom. nom.

Read on to see what you will need...

Brie and Pear Tart (recipe adapted from A Spicy Perspective)

·         1 roll out refrigerated pie crust

·         1 wedge of Brie Cheese (I used Ile De France)

·         3-4 ripe pears (you can check to see if a pear is ripe, not by the color of it, but by checking the firmness at the neck of the pear. if it gives a little when you push into it, it’s ripe!)

·         ¼ cup brown sugar

·         1 ½ tablespoon of pear brandy or schnapps (I will warn you, I was unable to find either of these in any liqueur store. I had to improvise by mixing pear juice and regular brandy)

·         salt

 The How to:

1.       Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

2.       Roll out the pie crust and carefully fit it down into your tart pan, making sure not to stretch the dough. Fold the excess dough inward and press into the ridges of the pan.

3.       Slice the brie into thin strips. Cover the bottom of the tart with the brie and press around the bottom evenly.

4.       Cut pears into super thin slices. Overlap them around the exterior of the tart pan, leaving a whole in the middle.

5.       Stand the remaining slices up and press into the exposed brie, creating the shape of a rose in the center of the pan. Continue to bend and overlap the pears all the way to the center. It will take very thin slices to curl the rose shape in the center.

6.       Mix the brown sugar and pear brandy in a small bowl.  Sprinkle over the top of the pears. Then sprinkle LIGHTLY with salt.

7.       Bake 30-40 minutes, until the brie is bubbling up and the crust is golden.

8.      Allow to sit for 10 minutes before cutting and serving.

This is food porn. How sexy!

**I have a few notes on this recipe so when I do make it again, it will turn out a little better. Baking is all about trial and error**

This was my first time working with pears and I’m not quite sure I chose pears that were in their ripest form. As I mentioned earlier, you can’t determine a pear is ripe on color. Check the neck of the pear and press into the top. If the pear gives a little when you push into it, it’s ready to go. I believe I made have chose pears that were not the ripest, so the flavor wasn’t quite there when they baked. You can use any pear you like, as most are similar in taste, I just preferred the color of the red ones.

Locating a pear brandy was a difficult task. Apparently all ABC stores in VA don’t carry it and you have to special order it. Gee thanks, Commonwealth. I had to improvise. I used the juice from some canned pears and mixed it with some regular brandy. I believe the pear juice was a little too watery, so the pear flavor was hardly visible. Next time, I would substitute apple brandy (which they DID have at the liqueur store!) or any other fruit brandy. I would also use some pear flavored syrup and regular brandy if I needed to. I think these options are better than my first attempt.

My last suggestion, which I also mentioned before would be to serve this BEFORE dinner, as an appetizer or first course. My family was expecting this to be “dessert-like” and was hoping for something sweeter to end our meal. I think if I had served it first, as the recipe I used suggested, this would have gone over much better. Luckily I had a chocolate chip cookie and a cupcake in the kitchen to save me I would also suggest serving the same day you make it. I waited a day and had to reheat and I think it lost of its punch by then.

 I know that was a lot, but I know using these tips will only make this recipe better. Please comment and let me know how it turned out if you do decide to make it!  I know I will be giving it a second go very soon!
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