It’s Time to Think about Holiday Baking and the Flavors of Autumn and Thanksgiving!
Everyone in my family has their favorite pie, and we try to accommodate everything from pumpkin to strawberry rhubarb at the Holidays. I have all the ingredients for the latter from the local farm tucked away in the freezer! But we also have a couple of chocolate lovers (including me), and lemon meringue, apple, and even mincemeat requests. But I like to come up with something new each year for the dessert table, just to keep things interesting. You never know what will become a new family favorite.
I have the fruit, what should I make?
This year, with lovely pears in hand, and the first of the local cranberries, I decided on a tart that would include both, so I started my trial run with the recipe. My starting point was a little individual tartlet I made for an event I catered. This had a savory Cheddar cheese crust that paired beautifully with an apple filling, a perfect New England flavor combo – Cheddar and apples! Why not swap out the pears, which also lend themselves to more savory flavors.
The crust is easy too; you press it into the tart pan rather than go through the stage of rolling it out. This is a great crust for a quiche; the cheese flavor is pronounced and quite memorable!
There is not a ton of sugar in this tart, and it hovers on the line between sweet and savory. If you have someone in your family who doesn’t like a lot of sweet, this is a good dessert to choose.
Choose what you like best
You can make this with a mix of apples and pears, or just apples alone. At the bottom of the tart are thin layers of cranberry and apple sauces. If you don’t like cranberries, you can omit them, substituting another berry such as raspberries. I used my own cranberry sauce, but the whole-berry canned sauce is a good substitute.
Although you can make this in a pie tin, it is a much nicer presentation in a tart pan!
Pear and Cranberry Tart
No-roll Cheddar cheese tart crust, one recipe
4 or 5 fresh pears, ripe but not too soft
16 or so fresh cranberries
3 – 4 tbsp. or so chunky cranberry sauce, homemade or canned
2 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp. butter, melted
1 tbsp. apple brandy or rum, optional
2 tbsp. granulated sugar
Prepare and bake your crust (recipe here) and set aside to cool.
To ready your pears, peel, core, and slice into about 12 slices, 16 if the pears are really large.
Steam the pears: Set a large skillet with a couple of inches of water over high heat and bring to a boil. Insert a steamer basket and add the pears. Cover tightly and steam for five minutes. Then, throw in the fresh cranberries and steam for another minute or two, just to start softening them. Remove from the heat and let cool so you can handle the pears.
Start layering: Add the ginger to the cranberry sauce, and spread over the bottom of the tart in an even layer. Add the applesauce, and even up again.
Arrange the pears around the outside of the tart in a ring formation starting at the outside circumference. Fill in the center with a few smaller pieces of pear. Dot with the steamed cranberries.
Drizzle the butter and the spirits over all, then sprinkle with the sugar. I didn’t use the full two tablespoons, but if you like things sweet you may even want a little more.
Bake at 350 for around 30 minutes, or until the pears are just starting to brown and the house smells really good.
Let cool completely before removing from tart pan.
Raspberry Substitution: To swap the cranberries for raspberries, use raspberry jam on the bottom layer of the tart, and fresh or frozen raspberries on the top. Do not steam them!
To make it even prettier: If you have apricot jam on hand, this is the go-to glaze for fruit tarts. Heat a couple of tablespoons in the microwave so it will loosen up. Paint the fruit with the glaze when it comes out of the oven. Very pretty.
© Copyright 2018 – or current year, Dorothy Grover-Read