I disappeared again, it seems, but I didn’t disappear too far. However, the holidays will drag me back into the spotlight. Thanksgiving meant a lot of food was made to be eaten, and as usual, I tend to be in charge of desserts. Now in my family, there are several people with diabetes and other health issues, so coming up with desserts that people can enjoy can be challenging. This simple pie recipe, which can be adapted for diabetics pretty easily, is actually one I stumbled into back in grad school when one of my professors would have a Pie Night toward the end of all of her classes.
I wanted to make a pear tart because I thought it would be good. I didn’t want it to wind up tasting just like an apple pie. I wanted the pear to be the predominant flavor. I knew I’d use a splash of lemon juice to keep the fruit from browning as well as a little sugar for taste and to hold it together, but I didn’t want the usual flavors that go into baking apple pies. A friend in my class suggested a few pinches of cardamom because it would be different, not as spicy as ginger, but not a typical apple pie flavor. So that’s what I tried, and it had been such a huge success that I’d barely had enough to take back for The Roommate to taste.
This is a really really easy dessert, and a really quick one, and it’s a nice change of pace from the usual holiday flavors one tends to expect.
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
3-4 tbsp cold water (I think I used closer to 6 just to make sure the dough was wet enough)
3-4 large pears; I used green Anjou pears, & you want them a little hard still, but just beginning to ripen
2 tbsp lemon juice; keeps pears from browning
3-4 tbsp sugar; you could substitute Truvia/Stevia for this if you want to make this really diabetic friendly (NOT Splenda or any other fake sugar; Truvia/Stevia are natural)
3-5 pinches of cardamom
For the pie crust, use the one that I posted with the Southern Buttermilk Pie from the Nutcracker Sweet cookbook.
1. Roll out the pie dough for a tart pan. With the recipe above, you’ll have enough pie dough for three tarts. Just break off what you need and roll that out and place in the tart pan, forming the dough into the form of the pan. You can freeze the rest of the dough or use it to make another pie for your holiday.
2. Peel and slice the pears. Cut around the core and then slice the pears as thick or thin as you want. Put them in a bowl. Add in the lemon juice and stir with hands to make sure they’re all coated. Add in the sugar and cardamom and do the same mixing until all the fruit is coated.
3. Begin to layer the fruit into the pie shell. It’s best (and prettiest) to circle the fruit around the pan from the outer edge to the center. Obviously, I’m still working on my presentation to make a pretty pie and pie crust, but it’s a work in progress. Also, if you want, place 3-4 tiny pats of butter across the top. This helps with the glaze/filling from the sugar. Very tiny, however. You don’t need much.
4. Now it’s time to bake. Your oven should be heated to 425º. Place your tart into the oven for 15 minutes on this temperature, and then lower the temp to 350º for another 40-50 minutes. Depending on your oven, it should just take the 40 minutes, but you’ll be able to tell on sight if your tart is the way you want it. If you need to, cover the edges with foil or a pie crust shield to keep the crust from becoming too brown. In the tart pan, you probably won’t have to.
5. Let the tart cool and then slice and eat.