Pears have always been one of my favorite fruits. It's probably partly because they're the hallmark of fall, my favorite season, and partly because I love their curvy, funny shapes. And definitely because the balanced flavor of a perfectly ripe pear is incredibly delicious. I wait longingly for the pears on our small trees to ripen, and keep a sharp eye out for the resident squirrels and raccoons who will make off with the bounty if given the chance.
We had a ton of fruit this year, so I made several versions of my made-up tart recipe, which, in my opinion, is still pretty fabulous. I came up with the recipe a few years ago when I was in a moment of goat cheese passion. I made a up several different tarts, both savory and sweet, with a crust and goat cheese as central elements, but of all of them the pear tart is my favorite. It's almost like a faintly goaty cheesecake, but not as sweet or as rich - just enough. It is equally suited for breakfast or dessert (especially if served with a little vanilla ice cream). And it's much easier to make than it looks, which is always a plus. I simplified the recipe this time around, and made it a little sweeter, but you can play with the sugar to suit. Enjoy!
Pear & Goat Cheese Tart
FOR SHORTBREAD CRUST
10 Tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp salt (or scant 1/4 tsp if using salted butter)
1 1/4 cup flour
10 oz. mild goat cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2-3 Tbsp honey
Few shakes of cinnamon
dash of vanilla
1 Tbsp bourbon or water
3-4 ripe pears
First, bring the cheese and butter to room temp., and preheat the oven to 350º.
To make the crust, cream the butter and sugar together with a spatula or hand mixer. Separately, mix the salt and flour, and add them into the butter. Mix until the dough just comes together, and press into the bottom of a pie or tart pan. Bake at 350º until set and just slightly golden, 10-15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Raise the oven temperature to 375º.
Meanwhile, make the filling by creaming together the cheese and sugar until blended and pliable. When the crust is cool, use a knife or small offset spatula to spread the cheese over the crust. If its too sticky, you can wet your hands and press with your fingers.
Next, cut the pears in half lengthwise and then slice into 1/8-1/4" slices. Arrange these in a spiral on top of the filling.
Finally, blend the glaze ingredients in a small saucepan or butter warmer over low heat, simmering until thick. I do this while I'm making the filling and slicing the pears. Using a pastry brush, layer the glaze over the pears until the tart top glistens. Bake at 375º until the pears soften and turn golden, about 25-30 minutes.
[[ recipeID=recipe-9kuyrbfuh, title=Pear and Goat Cheese Tart ]]