I went to Caprial's Desserts to look up the recipe for this tart that I made, and I discovered that I hadn't written any notes on it! Whenever I make something, I always (or so I thought) write on the recipe any modifications I made, what I thought, if I'd make it again, etc. I used to hate the idea of defacing a book in such a way but now I love it. I love flipping through a cookbook and seeing all the writing on the recipes. So with this one, I will have to try and just dredge it up from my less than stellar memory!
I made this pie for Canada Day back in July. Ever since I got this cookbook I've wanted to make this pie - pears poached in 5 cups of wine, caramel filling with pear brandy, and a graham shortbread crust. Sounded irresistible. The result was good but it tasted more like a fairly regular apple pie, and less like the amazing thing I had hoped for. I think what ruined it for me was the nutmeg in the caramel filling - only 1/2 teaspoon but it killed the delicate flavours of everything else. I bet this pie would be much closer to my high expectations without it. The caramel filling did not taste like pear brandy! Sob. Well maybe a little bit but not distinctly (damn nutmeg). The crust turned out kind of soft, but I think that's partly due to the fact that I didn't have time to let it cool completely before taking it to dinner.
I've made another pear pie from this same cookbook, and what I can conclude is that pear pies taste like apple pies, they just sound fancier. Oh and the recipe says to reserve the poaching liquid for another use - what could you possibly use it for?
Hope all the Canadians have a good Thanksgiving!
If this sounds good, you might also like:
Apple Pie with Brown Sugar Streusel Topping
Coconut Cream Pie
Caramel-Pear Tart with a Graham Shortbread Crust
Adapted from Caprial's Desserts
The recipe recommends a 9 or 10 inch tart shell, and I used an 8" one. I had caramel filling and LOTS of pears leftover. I think I used about 3 1/2 or 4 pears, but they were quite huge. You can bake the extra caramel and pears together in ramekins.
5 cups white wine
1 cup sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 cinnamon stick
1 (1 inch thick) slice of fresh ginger
5 or 6 firm pears, peeled, halved and cored (Ashley note: I think this is 5 or 6 small pears, and probably about 3 or 4 large ones.)
Graham Shortbread Crust
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup graham flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup pear brandy
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (I'd definitely omit this next time.)
Poach the pears:
Combine everything but the pears in a large heavy saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, add the pears, lower the heat to medium, and poach until fork-tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Cool the pears in the liquid and refrigerate until ready to use. (For the best flavour, refrigerate them in the liquid overnight, if possible.)
Make the crust:
Preheat a standard oven to 375F.
Place everything but the butter in the bowl of a food processor. With the motor running, slowly add the butter and process until the dough forms a ball on top of the blade. Remove the dough from the food processor; if it's too soft to work with, refrigerate until it's easier to handle. Press the dough into a well-greased 10" tart pan. (The easiest way to do this is to first press it into the sides of the pan, then finish with the bottom of the pan.) Bake just until set but not brown, about 10 minutes; let cool completely.
Lower the oven temperature to 350F.
Make the caramel filling:
Meanwhile, to prepare the caramel filling, place the sugar in a large saute pan with sides or a heavy saucepan. Gently moisten the sugar with the water, being careful not to splash the water and sugar onto the sides of the pan. Cook the sugar mixture over high heat, without stirring, until you see any part of it turning brown, then swirl the pan to even out the colour. Cook until golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Carefully add the cream to the hot sugar, taking care to pour it in slowly because it will bubble up very violently. Add the brandy and cook, again without stirring, until the caramelized sugar has liquefied again and the mixture is very smooth and a deep golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat. Let cool until tepid, then whisk in the egg and nutmeg.
Cut the poached pears into 1/4 inch thick slices, reserving the poach liquid for another use. Arrange the pear slices in concentric circles in the cooled tart shell, pour the caramel filling into the shell, and bake until the filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes. Let cool for about 20 minutes before serving.