A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was attempting to perfect a pear tart. This was right around the time I previewed my wild mushroom tart for Thanksgiving. In the weeks since, our household has experienced quite the increase in pear consumption.
This is not to say that I haven't perfected it. You see, I have. But, sometimes our ideas have a funny way of working out differently than what we first imagine.
John and I were having two of our good friends over for an impromptu dinner party. It was a chilly Saturday evening, and I had been dreaming of making Jamie Oliver's Guinness Steak and Cheddar Pot Pie. Though his recipe calls for using store bought puff-pastry, I decided to use my tried and true all-butter tart dough. That way, I could use the tart dough for the pot pie, and then use whatever dough was leftover for this perfect pear tart I was envisioning.
You see, I'm a smart cookie.
Or, maybe not so much. Because all the tart dough I made happened to be just barely enough for the pot pie.
It must have been the several glasses of wine I'd consumed that relaxed and prevented me from believing this to be a kitchen disaster, because right then and there I decided I was just going to make the pears tart-less served alongside some out-of-this-world whipped cream.
Earlier in the week, I had experimented with adding one of my new favorite ingredients to the pears during the caramelization process: cognac. Yes, cognac. I'm having a bit of a love affair with this ingredient right now. It's gone into everything from my mushroom tart, to the caramelized pears, to the whipped cream that goes on top of the caramelized pears, to my hot apple cider, and has further been discovered as an excellent liquid for plumping raisins in. Have I mentioned that it also finishes off a steak very well?
At any rate, when I served these pears with the mascarpone whipped cream, everyone silently gulped them down. I even shamelessly licked my plate (I was among friends). Kate pronounced them perfect as-is; no tart necessary.
I made them for Thanksgiving, and the day after Thanksgiving. And now, I am making them again. They are that good. Have I mentioned that they are very easy too?
Before I indulge you with the recipe, I do have to confess one thing. I'm not sure if it's the pears that are so delicious, or the whipped cream topping. You see, the whipped cream is half mascarpone cheese and half heavy cream. A good douse of cinnamon, a bit of sugar, and a good douse of cognac completes the recipe. As if whipped cream wasn't good enough to start with, this could be the new gold standard.
Caramelized Pears with Mascarpone Whipped Cream
For the pears
- 6 ripe pears, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slivers
- 3 TB butter
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 lemon, cut into two wedges
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/3 cup cognac
- 2 whole cloves
For the mascarpone whipped cream
- 1/2 Cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 Cup mascarpone cheese
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cognac
- shaved bittersweet chocolate
Heat a medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter the the saucepan, and then the pears. Saute for 1-2 minutes. Add the brown sugar, cinnamon, cognac, and the two lemon wedges pierced with the cloves. Saute over medium high heat until the liquid evaporates and makes a caramel-like coating around the pears (about 10-15 minutes).
Make the Whipped Cream
Whip all the whipped cream ingredients in an upright mixer until fluffy.
Serve the caramelized pears warm topped with whipped cream and shaved chocolate (optional).
Note: You may have some whipped cream leftover after serving up all the pears. I recommend eating it by the spoonful.
One Year Ago at The Garden Apartment: Apple, Fennel and Pomegranate Salad with Maple Vinaigrette