Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Brie, Pear and Hazelnut Brittle Tart

I often find myself thinking about wine pairings as it's a regular topic where I work. I also often find myself staring into the depths of the meat and cheese drawer of my refrigerator thinking about what to eat. Both of these occurrences led me to this tart. The crust is made with cold Sherry (dry, I used an Amontillado) instead of water and lends itself to either a sweet or savory tart.

This one is a bit of both.

After making the dough I let it rest in the fridge and got to the hazelnut brittle. Brittle is one of those things that seems way more difficult than it is sometimes. It couldn't be easier, just heat some sugar (I used about a cup) until it starts to melt and brown, add in butter and when everything looks like caramel through in your chopped nuts. Pour mixture out onto some parchment paper and wait until cool. Mine looked like this:

While this cools make the brie custard. I have no measurements for this stuff, it's one of my pitfalls of baking right now. I hate to measure and often just guess. That may be OK for fillings but it gets me in trouble for anything else. I cut off the rind of the brie and whipped it up adding 3 yolks and about 1/2 cup or so of cream. This makes the base of the tart. On top of that goes sliced pears that have been dipped in reduced PX Sherry till it looks like syrup. Before heading to the oven the tart looks pretty good:

The shell was par-cooked and the whole thing baked at 375 for about 20 minutes or until the custard set and browned a bit. The brittle gets broken into pieces and sprinkled over the slices.


Husband - "I'd eat a couple slices of that."
5-year-old - "Yum Yums"

Me - The flavors worked really well together although the sherry didn't come out in the crust quite as much as I'd expected. The brittle totally makes it work. Next time around I would soak the pear slices in the syrup a bit and pre cook the crust longer. Otherwise, a successful experiment.

Now, on to the next pie!

Sunday, October 12, 2008


Ok, here's the thing. I'm just going to put it out there fir off so there's no confusion. I am very, and maybe oddly, protective of my crust. I have no idea if all pie makers are but to me, it's the most important thing. If the crust isn't spectacular then why turn the filling into a pie? Just spoon it over ice cream or make a sandwich out of it. I plan on experimenting with my crust here, but I am not planning to list my recipe. The way I see it is this: if you need a crust recipe of your own, then find a grandma (yours or someone else's) and get a recipe from her. That what I did, thank you grandma Haunstein.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Why Immortal Pie?

Why pie at all, right? A pie, by the way, is not just a thing to eat after turkey, a way to use up U-Pick berries, or (heaven forbid!) made with a crust from the freezer section. Sure, there's a bit of the comfort food/grandma connection, and many argue for its all-Americanness (though given the galette, tart, crostata, empanada and pasty that seems a bit of a stretch) but there's something else to it. Making a pie is a process, a journey if you will. Like all journeys it's never the same each time, a lot can depend on the weather, and there are infinite possibilities. I've always been a fan of the journey during times of turmoil and uncertainty. I've also been a fan during times of growth, exploration, and all around contentment. In that spirit I intend to use this blog as a witness to my journey through Pieland. Call it a pie Odyssey. No, that's too dramatic. Let's stick with Immortal Pie.