Chocolate Pear Tart

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This recipe was shared with me by a well-known foodie who lives in my area. She’d received it after attending a cooking school in Tuscany about 25 years ago. The recipe never got published, so I’m sharing.

This is the only dessert my husband has requested on more than one occasion. Oh, there might be an occasional bananas Foster request, depending on the season, but this tart is hands down his favorite dessert. And for good reason.

The pie has a dense chocolate crust, a layer of raspberry jam, pears, and a chocolate, meringue-like filling. What is not to love?

Use canned or jarred pear halves for this tart. Home-made poached pears would be lovely, but the other flavors are strong and I don’t think it would be worth the poaching. Raw pears would not be soft enough.

Chocolate Pear Tart

1 stick, or 4 ounces butter
2 cups white flour
2 eggs, whisked
2 cups sugar
2 cups unsweetened cocoa
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate
4 tablespoons butter
2 egg whites
3 ounces seedless raspberry jam
2 – 29 ounce cans pear halves, drained well, dried
3 egg yolks
6 tablespoons baking sugar

Make the dough by processing the butter, flour, egg, sugar, and cocoa, adding a few drops of water if necessary. I have had to place the mixture in a large bowl to moisten the dough before; it’s a large amount of dry to uniformly turn into a crust.

Butter and lightly flour a 11” pie tin with a removable bottom. Form a crust in the bottom by pressing and forming as neatly as possible, and chill in the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the chocolate and butter together in a double boiler over barely simmering water until smooth. I remember reading that you are not “cooking” the chocolate when tempering, you are simply melting it. Set aside to cool.

Remove the pie tin from the refrigerator and spread the jam on the crust. Forming a concentric circle, place the best, most uniform-sized pears, inside down, on the jam layer. You can form one last pear into a round and place it in the middle of the tart.

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is thick, about 5-6 minutes. Whip the egg whites until stiff and set aside.

Gently fold in the chocolate and egg whites into the yolk and sugar mixture.

Pour the chocolate filling over the pears and smooth. Bake for about 40 minutes.

If desired, serve with whipped cream.

When I mentioned that the recipe calls for an 11″ tart pan, it’s important. I could only find a 10″, and the resulting tart is not as pretty.

The tops of the pears should not be covered in chocolate meringue, the tops of the pears should be bare.

You can still see all of the wonderful elements of this tart, and know how good it is, but it’s just not as pretty as it should be. Plus, I slightly undercooked the tart, which accounts for some of the oozing chocolate and raspberry jam. But don’t be discouraged, because I’ve made this before with no issues at all, and I’m no baker!

Monte Cristo Crêpes

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A Monte Cristo sandwich is a ham and cheese sandwich with a layer of strawberry jam, that is then egg-dipped and pan-fried in butter. The sweet and savory flavors, along with the melty cheese and crispy bread are heavenly.

I’ve only had a Monte Cristo once, but I remember it well. My stepfather had come to Santa Barbara, California, where I was attending college, and he took me to lunch at a well known Mexican restaurant downtown called El Paseo, which was housed in a popular fiesta venue known for its retractable ceiling. I found this photo on Pinterest!

How I came to choose the Monte Cristo sandwich that day is beyond me, but I loved the flavor combinations.

The traditional Monte Cristo sandwich recipe is generally the following:
Firm sandwich bread slices
Sliced Swiss cheese
Jambon de Bayonne or other good thinly-sliced ham
Strawberry jam (not preserves) or red currant jelly
Mayo mixed with some whole-grain mustard
Eggs whisked for dipping
Butter for pan frying

The Monte Cristo is always sliced in half before serving, so the beautiful layers show, and sprinkled with powdered sugar. This photo is from Bon Appetit, although it doesn’t show the layers.

Thanks to general pandemic googling, I came across Monte Cristo Crêpes from Serious Eats, by Morgan Eisenberg, WOW! I was so excited to make these. From the recipe’s creator, whose blog is Host the Toast: “It’s a masterpiece of the sweet-and-savory genre, and it turns out it’s just as good in crepe form.”

Monte Cristo Crêpes
adapted by Morgan Eisenberg

1/2 cup strawberry jam (not preserves)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
6 basic crêpes, unsweetened
6 slices Havarti cheese
Grated Gruyere, about 6 ounces
12 thin slices deli ham*
1/3 milk
2 large eggs
1 egg yolk
Pinch of salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
Confectioners’ sugar, to dust
Assorted berries, for garnish (optional)

In a small bowl, thoroughly whisk together jelly and mustard. Spread a thin, even layer of the jelly mixture over each of 6 crêpes. Warm first if necessary.

Top each crêpe with 1 slice of each cheese and then layer the ham on top of the cheese.

Sprinkle some grated Gruyere around the outside of each crêpe to help everything to hold together – about 1 ounce each. I used my microwave on a very low setting to just get the cheese warm and slightly melted in order to hold the crêpes together before continuing with the recipe.

Roll the crepe up tightly and and set seam-side down. Press gently. Repeat for remaining crepes.

In a large bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, egg yolk and salt. Have a non-stick skillet over medium heat, starting with about 2 tablespoons of butter melting. Using your fingers, briefly dip a crêpe into the egg mixture. Allow excess to drip off and transfer to the skillet, seam-side down.

Fry crepes until golden all over, turning once. Everything is already cooked, so you’re just looking for some nice browning.

Transfer to a plate. Repeat with the remaining crepes, frying one or two at a time and adding butter as needed.

Serve any remaining jam-Dijon mixture.

Dust crepes with powdered sugar, if desired.

Serve warm with berries. See the beautiful layers?

I might have made these extra cheesy, because the cheese “juice” as my husband calls it, just poured out of these!

But so did the cheese, which was lovely.

I have a lot of experience with crêpes, but with all of the ooziness, I didn’t think they looked very pretty free-form. I might make these again more in casserole form, even though I detest that word! I also think larger diameter crepes would have been easier to manage.

*Since I used Serrano ham, which is similar to prosciutto, I only used 6 slices total.

Bagels di Ricotta

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I posted a while back on Bruschetta di Ricotta, savory crostini topped with ricotta and baked, I wanted to do something similar that would be an option for breakfast. Or maybe even dessert, depending on your tastes.

So at the same time I was baking my sliced French bread for crostini, I opened up a bagel and toasted it as well.

I used the same mixture – 5 ounces of ricotta with one egg mixed together, plus the Parmesan, and topped the toasted bagel with some of this. Then I placed the bagel back into the oven for 15 minutes.

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Before I ate it – after all, it was breakfast time – I drizzled the ricotta-topped bagel with orange-infused oil.

bagel

The oil isn’t sweet, it just tastes like oranges!

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I could have added a touch of sugar, or a little honey to the ricotta mixture first, but I liked the idea of the savory Parmesan in the mixture, and so I left it alone. And I added raspberry jam. I did, however, omit the salt, pepper, and thyme!

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I must say, it was absolutely fabulous.

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And then I drizzled a little more orange oil…

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And ate some more. Until there was none left.

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Idea: Make these ahead of time, maybe using mini bagels, and then heat them up in a warming drawer or warm oven, and serve to company. They are fabulous for breakfast, I can attest, but for a brunch they would also be spectacular, especially with different jams and jellies. Maybe a little messy, but no one will care. They don’t get soggy because the bread is toasted first, and then the ricotta is baked.