Friday, November 4, 2011

Pear & Cream Cheese Tarts

We closed the house in Montauk this past weekend, always a sad activity.  With the baby due date approaching, it seemed wise to close early.

To mark our last weekend 'out east', a good friend invited us to a dinner party. She whipped up one of my favorite fall Martha recipe's, pot-au-feu, and a particularly juicy roasted chicken.  I created the little guys below for dessert. I wish I had thought to take a picture of the table.  Candles burning, fresh cut flowers, a table of friends... it was the perfect end to our Montauk season.

The recipe looks complicated because of the length, but that is truly not the case. I combined a few favorite desert components for a quick baking treat. The crust bakes just once, unlike many tarts where the crust bakes first, and the pear and cream cheese filling are a cinch to pull together.  Enjoy!

Perfect Pear Cream Cheese Tarts
For the Crust(s):
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/3 cup confectioners (powdered or icing)
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the Filling:
  • One 8-ounce cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the Pears:
  • 5-6 pears, cored, peeled
    • Note: If you are making the individual tarts, chop the pears into bite size pieces. If using one pan, slice into 1/4th wedges
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Preheat oven to 350F and place rack in center of oven.
  • Butter or spray either 6 mini tart tins like these, or a 9 inch spring form pan. 
  • Crust: In your food processor, pulse the flour, salt, and sugar together.
  • Add the butter and pulse until dough just begins to come together. If you don't have a food processor, you can mix by hand with two knifes.
  • Spoon the dough onto the bottom of the mini tarts or pan, and flatten out across the bottom and up the sides.
  • Cover with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
  • For the Filling: Blend of food process the cream cheese until smooth. Add the sugar and mix well.
  • Blend in the egg and vanilla extract and process until smooth. Remove the crust from the fridge and scoop 1.5 tablespoons in each mini tart, or pour a thin layer of filling in a larger pan.  If you are making the mini-tarts, you will have leftover filling. 
  • Return to the fridge while you prepare the topping.
  • For the Topping: Combine the sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Toss the pears in the sugar mixture. Arrange evenly over the cream cheese layer.
  • Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes in small tarts or 25 to 35 minutes in the single pan, until the crust is brown and the filling is almost set. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool.
  • Sprinkle with confectioners sugar and serve at room temperature.

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