November 27, 2012

Pear Cranberry Gingerbread Tartlets

It's hard to pin down just one flavor of fall. I can never decide between spices, gingerbread, cranberries, apples, pears, and many other delicious ingredients. Oh, and a pop of citrus doesn't hurt, either. The best thing about these tarts? They have a bunch of those flavors. You can pick out notes of cinnamon, molasses, orange, and caramel, not to mention the velvety spiced pears and the tart cranberries. The recipe is a bit complex and has multiple components, but it is worth the time and effort to build the layers of flavor.

The crust is always my favorite part of the pie (or tart). Sure, plain or chocolate is delicious, but this is a spiced gingerbread crust. It is rich and buttery with that unique molasses flavor, and it is a great base for all the other ingredients. The crust stays crisp and is the perfect foil to the tender fruit piled on top.

These are not your average pears; they are tossed in orange juice and cinnamon and sweetened with brown sugar. I add cornstarch to absorb some of the liquid, keeping the crust from getting soggy. I then fold in some fresh cranberries. They are only available this time of year, so I buy a few pounds and freeze them. This is one of my favorite cranberry recipes because they add a beautiful color and tang. They almost roast in the oven to caramelize and shrivel, like little cranberry raisins (craisin lovers, this is for you!).

The final piece of this delicious puzzle is the orange caramel. Yes, you read that right. Orange. Caramel. All of the goodness of sticky-sweet caramel is perked up by a dose of orange. I use both orange zest and juice to boost the flavor while retaining the right texture, and you can always add more to heighten the citrus flavor. I drizzle it on top of the fruit before baking so the fruit absorbs some and the rest thickens to bind it all together. If you have any left over after drizzling and licking the bowl (don't worry, I won't tell), you can spoon it on top of the finished tartlets. The orange balances the cranberries and pears, and the gingerbread crust has a pleasant aromatic quality that pairs well with the orange. I love this recipe for the color and the flavor, and it is just the quintessential fall recipe.

2 1/4 Cups Flour
1 Cup + 2 T Dark Brown Sugar
2 tsp Ginger
1 T + 1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Allspice
1/4 tsp Cloves
3/4 tsp Salt
1 1/2 Sticks + 1 T Butter, Chilled
2 Egg Yolks
3 T Molasses
6 Pears, Diced
1/4 Cup Orange Juice
1 tsp Orange Zest
2 T Cornstarch
1 1/2 Cups Cranberries
1/2 Cup Cream

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, 6 T brown sugar, ginger, 1 T cinnamon, allspice, cloves, and salt. Pulse in 1 1/2 sticks butter. Combine the molasses and egg yolks and add to the mixture. Chill for 15 minutes.

Combine 1/2 cup brown sugar, orange zest, cream, and remaining butter in a small pot. Boil until thick, then whisk in 2T orange juice.

Preheat oven to 375F and grease 14 4" tartlet pans.

Roll the dough to fit the pan and chill until firm. Prick.

Combine remaining cinnamon, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and cornstarch. Combine the pears, remaining orange juice, spice mixture, and cranberries.

Spoon the fruit mixture into the pans and drizzle with caramel. Bake for 15 minutes or until pears are softened and crust is crisp.

Make 14 Tartlets

No comments:

Post a Comment