Monday, November 8, 2010

pear-chocolate-hazelnut crostata

Readers, I cannot lie to you. This crostata? Not one for the history books.

Don't get me wrong, this wasn't a hide-it-under-your-napkin kind of dessert. It was fine, totally acceptable, even earned a few "mmms" from the crowd. Pears and chocolate and hazlenuts are a pretty hard combination to screw up. One of my all-time favorite desserts is a chocolate-pear cake. (I should have made that cake instead.)

Like the Bolognese that was served before it, this dessert seemed a little lacking. I wanted something a little bolder, richer. Something that made my eyes roll back in their sockets.

I think it had something to do with my choice of fruit. Pears have such a light flavor that I think they taste best when poached in something flavorful, like wine or some sort of juice or spice-infused syrup. When paired (ha) with the chocolate and hazelnuts, their floral delicacy was lost.
Maybe a thin layer of pear preserves brushed onto the crust would have boosted the flavor?
Also, the chocolate chips look dorky. Next time, I'll be more sophisticated and buy a bar of chocolate to shave over the pears.

This tart cries out for whipped cream, which is how I served it, but I'd recommend spiking the cream with some bourbon. Or maybe even poaching the pears in a little bourbon-infused syrup? Or maybe just scratch the tart altogether and just have some bourbon.
Pear-chocolate-hazelnut crostata
From Bon Appetit via Epicurious. Be sure to place your rolled-out tart crust atop a piece of parchment before you start layering the pears. I didn't and had a heck of a time transferring the whole thing to a baking sheet. I also used only semisweet chocolate instead of a combination.
(Makes one 11-inch tart)

Pie crust (I used David Tanis' recipe for pie crust since my apple tart yielded two crusts)
1 large egg
2 Tbsp. whipping cream
4 large firm but ripe Bosc pears, peeled, quartered, cored, each quarter cut lengthwise into 3 slices
3 Tbsp. chopped husked toasted hazelnuts
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped imported milk chocolate
2 Tbsp. coarsely chopped bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate
6 Tbsp. raw sugar, divided
1/4 tsp. coarse sea salt (optional)

Whipped cream, for garnishing

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Place large sheet of parchment paper on work surface. Place crust dough atop parchment; roll out dough to 14-inch round. Transfer parchment with dough to large unrimmed baking sheet. Whisk egg and cream in small bowl. Brush center 10 inches of dough with some of egg glaze, leaving 2-inch plain border. Arrange pear slices in concentric circles atop glaze on dough. Sprinkle hazelnuts and both chocolates, then 4 tablespoons raw sugar over pears.

Fold dough border over filling to form 11-inch round, pleating loosely and pinching to seal any cracks in dough. Brush crust with egg glaze; sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons raw sugar, then with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, if desired.

Bake crostata until crust is deep golden and pears are tender, about 40 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to rack. Run long thin knife under crust to free from parchment. Cool to lukewarm on parchment on sheet. Using large tart pan bottom as aid, transfer crostata to platter. Serve lukewarm or at room temperature with whipped cream


Casey@Good. Food. Stories. said...

But you made pie crust without blinking an eye... how far you've come.

Lisa said...

That is very true! You know how to accentuate the positive, my friend. :)

Unknown said...

I worked with Pear pancakes the other week and I felt the same way. Not bad, but wanted something stronger. I agree that a good poaching might be in order.

Lisa said...

I agree--pears are hard to cook with!

Daniel said...

Maybe just skip the tart and stick with a bottle of bourbon?


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