A perfectly refreshing dessert for any season, learn how to make this simple and delicious treat.
This post comes from our blog intern, Monica!
One of my favorite desserts when I’m in a pinch for time is this beautiful sweet and savory pear and cardamom tart. The classic flavors of caramelized pears, sweet mascarpone, and fresh thyme on a simple pastry crust go together splendidly, making it perfect for a delicious weekend breakfast or a sweet yet savory appetizer or dessert. If you prefer a sweeter treat you could finish it with a sprinkling of turbinado sugar or a drizzle of honey, but don’t skimp on the herbs, fresh thyme lends an earthy brightness to this recipe that is not to be missed.
Much of the work can be done in advance including baking the pastry crust, making the custard or caramelizing the pears. You could also top the tart with some chopped walnuts or pine nuts for additional texture and flavor.
There are many different pear varieties available depending on where you live. The three most common pears in my area are Anjou, Bartlett and Bosc. Anjou pears are egg shaped and have a green or red skin, Bartlett pears are typically more yellow when ripe and have a thin skin, while Bosc pears have a slightly brown tone and a more tapered neck than the other varieties. When choosing pears for cooking you will want to select those that are firm but not hard, smell fresh and are smooth and unblemished. I used red Concorde pears because of their firmness and sweetness but you can’t go wrong with whichever pears you choose. As they caramelize in the brown sugar and spices, their sweet juices evoke the essence of the autumn harvest. Fall is the best season for pears, but they are available almost all year long.
Simple Pastry Crust
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
2 tsp granulated sugar
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup shortening or olive oil
2 Tbsp of water
Preheat your oven to 425˚F. In a medium bowl, mix flour, salt and sugar. Add in the applesauce, oil and water with a fork until combined. Knead the dough two to three times, chill in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour, and then roll out on a floured surface, leaving the dough about ¼ inch thick. Be sure to roll your dough in the shape of your tart pan, making it about two inches larger on each side for the dough to sit on the sides of the pan. I used a rectangular tart pan about 14” X 4”.
Place the dough in the tart pan, pressing it to the edges, take a fork and poke holes into the base of the dough — these act as vents and keeps the dough from expanding too much.
Once your dough is in the pan, cover the edges of the dough with aluminum foil. This prevents the crust from burning and ensures it cooks more evenly.
Place it in the oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool completely before adding in the filling.
1 cup of mascarpone
2/3 cup Greek yogurt, plain or a flavor of your choice (I used fig and lemon Greek yogurt)
¼ cup honey or agave nectar
1 Tbsp cardamom
1 tsp vanilla
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, stirring as little as possible to retain the fluffiness of the marscapone. Refrigerate for at least an hour to chill and thicken.
Vegan Filling Alternative:
Simple Cashew Cream
1 ½ cups soaked raw cashews
¼ -½ cup water
2 Tbsp agave nectar
1 Tbsp cardamom
1 tsp vanilla
Soak the cashews for at least 2 hours in a bowl of water. Strain when complete. Place the cashews, agave nectar, vanilla and cardamom into a blender or food processor and blend, slowly incorporating the water until you reach the consistency you prefer. Refrigerate for an hour or more to chill and thicken. Once the filling has chilled, place it in the baked crust and chill once more in the fridge or freezer while you prepare the pears.
Two large pears of your choice, sliced.
4 Tbsp coconut oil or butter
2 Tbsp cardamom
2 Tbsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp brown sugar
Heat a skillet over medium heat, melt the oil, and add your sliced pears, allowing them to brown slightly before adding in the brown sugar, cardamom and cinnamon. Let the pears sauté for about five minutes, let them cool, and then place them on top of the tart.
After everything is assembled, you can add thyme for garnish or drizzle some honey on top and serve it up! If you don’t eat it right away be sure to store it in the fridge.
For more seasonal recipes, check out more on BLDG 25!