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Recipe: Caramel Pear Torte With Almond Crust

November 22, 2009
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When a Saturday morning brunch with friends is also a work meeting, it calls for some extra yummy sugar to make the work go down. Fortunately, I happen to love brunch, (almost as much as I love my friends) and am always happy with very basic Coddled Eggs, bacon, fruit, and potatoes. (Oh, and Bloody Marys and coffee, of course.) But the thing that makes it brunch, and not just breakfast, is some sort of dessert. And dessert is my favorite course, in any meal!

This Pear Torte occurred to me while I was on the elliptical machine at the gym. The flavors and textures literally started swirling in my head and I couldn’t wait to try it. I got it almost right the first time, but what I’m sharing with you reflects the changes I will make next time. As always, the measurements are my best guess, because I just don’t measure anything…..

I know this looks complicated, but it’s not, at all. PLUS, if you do this, you will have a grasp on crusts and custard – and you can use that to make anything you want!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 Pears (I used bosch, but any pear will work. Best if they’re still firm, or they will turn to mush when baking.)
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • Pinch o’ salt
  • 1-1/2 Cup Granulated White Sugar
  • 1 Cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 Cup Cream (plus a tad)
  • ½ Cup Almonds (finely ground) OR 1/3 Cup Canned Almond Paste / Pie Filling
  • 3 Eggs
  • Vanilla

9-inch Springform pan (or else make a foil ring that fits around the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan, and place it on foil in the center of a cookie sheet – which is what I did because I was baking at the home of someone who did not know what a springform pan was.)

MAKING IT:

Preheat oven to 350

CRUST:

  1. Mix together 1 Cup Flour and 3/4-ish Cup Granulated sugar in a bowl with a pinch o’ salt. If you are using finely ground almonds, add them now too.
  2. Cut ½ stick Butter into small pieces and put them in the bowl, tossing around to evenly distribute them.
  3. If you are using Almond pie filling from a can, add it now.
  4. Using a pasty cutter, or a knife and fork, very quickly mix wet and dry together until it is fairly even – but DO NOT overdo or it will get tough. You’ve not added liquid yet, so it’s not gonna be smooth at all.
  5. Add 1 egg and as much cream as needed to make it the consistency of a pie or cookie dough, but DO NOT over-mix and try to get it smooth. Leave it chunky and crumbly.
  6. Smoosh it into the bottom of the Springboard pan (or fake foil circle) and work it about 1 inch up the sides.
  7. Bake the empty crust in the oven for 10 minutes or so, until the butter seems to be melting and the dough seems to be taking and holding it’s shape, maybe starting to brown a tiny bit.

CARAMEL:

  1. Melt ½ stick butter over low heat – do not burn it at this point.
  2. Add roughly a cup of brown sugar and melt it into the butter. You will want to add a tiny bit of water to get it all melted together.
  3. When it is all melted and just starting to simmer, add a couple Tablespoons – or so – of cream. Toss in some vanilla and melt it all together.
  4. Let it come to a frothy, foamy boil, then turn the heat as low as you can get it and just keep it liquid.

FILLING:

  1. Slice the pears. Cut them in half lengthwise, then cut off the hips so that you can make thin, even slices that are all the same size. The slices should be thin and even, so that you can layer them nicely. SAVE the hips – you’ll need them.
  2. Take the hips from one pear, and dice them as finely as you can, even mushing them is good.
  3. In a bowl, mix 1 Cup Granulated Sugar, ½ cup Flour, 1 Cup Cream and 2 eggs.
  4. Add some vanilla and the diced / mushed hips of 1 Pear.

ASSEMBLE:

  1. Take your warm crust and pour roughly half the caramel into the bottom. Let it set (in the fridge if you have to) for about 5 minutes until it solidifies a little. (Put the remainder back on the very low heat to keep it liquid.)
  2. Spoon a layer of filling on top of the caramel.
  3. Layer pears on top of the filling – however you want. I made a fan, but you could just cover the whole surface, you won’t see it.
  4. Spoon another layer of cream on top.
  5. Make one more layer of pears – this one will be more visible.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until it is starting to set up like a custard.

At that point, take it out and pour more caramel on top, then put it back in the oven.

Bake another 10 minutes or so.

Let it cool before serving.

Now,  you should have the hips from one pear left, and hopefully some caramel. That’s your reward – dip the pears in the caramel, eat them and revel in your delicious majesty. If there is someone you REALLY love in the kitchen with you, you could share, but you don’t have to.
And, thanks to Jason and Molly for making it necessary – I swear, this is easy, even without Velveeta! 🙂 xoxox

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