Pear Tart: A Holiday Treat

Well, I’m home for the holidays, and that means lots and lots and LOTS of cooking and baking with my mom.  This is a time of year I look forward to because the food is abundant and the company is wonderful.  My mom and I are usually baking up a storm in the kitchen, my dad is on the computer commenting occasionally on the smell wafting into the room, and my younger sister does not miss a beat to tell us what to make next.  Toby, our west highland terrier, is the best vacuum cleaner we could ever ask for and cleans up any morsel we drop on the floor.  All in all, a somewhat chaotic scene, but I wouldn’t ask for anything else.

This particular recipe is one of my favorites that my mom makes.  It’s a great winter dessert and is perfect after a big holiday dinner.  I always make sure it gets made when I come home from school because it is one of my favorite desserts.

Here is the recipe for Caramelized Upside-Down Pear Tart:

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INGREDIENTS

  • 4 large firm-ripe Bosc pears (2 pounds total)
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  •  Pastry dough (1 store-bought, or homemade)

DIRECTIONS

Peel and halve pears, the core (preferably with a melon-ball cutter). Heat butter in a 9- to 10-inch well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over moderate heat until foam subsides, then stir in sugar (sugar will not be dissolved). Arrange pears, cut sides up, in skillet with wide parts at rim of skillet. Sprinkle pears with cinnamon and cook, undisturbed, until sugar turns a deep golden caramel. (This can take as little as 10 minutes or as much as 25, depending on pears, skillets, and stove.) Cool pears completely in skillet.

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 425°F.

Roll out dough on a lightly floured surface with a floured rolling pin into a 12-inch round and trim to a 9 1/2- to 10 1/2-inch round. Arrange pastry over caramelized pears, tucking edge around pears inside rim of skillet. Bake tart until pastry is golden brown, 30 to 35 minutes. Cool on rack 5 minutes.

Invert a rimmed serving plate (slightly larger than skillet) over skillet and, using pot holders to hold skillet and plate tightly together, invert tart onto plate. Serve tart warm or at room temperature.

Recipe courtesy of epicurious

When my mom and I make this, we always make the pastry dough, but if you don’t have enough time to do that, store-bought dough is just as good.  I know Trader Joes has frozen pie crusts year round.

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much and my family and I do! Enjoy!

Halloween Popcorn

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays.  It is the one day (or multiple days in college) of the year when you can dress up as anything you want and no one will question why.  I take a lot of time to figure out my costume and I have never in my life bought a costume.  I always put it together from pieces of clothing I own or sew it myself.  It’s more fun and creative that way.  The other thing I love about Halloween is the candy (who doesn’t).  Just like all the trick-or-treating kids, I can’t wait to get my hands on some candy.  But eating that much candy is obviously not very healthy, so I came up with something just as tasty but consisting of less sugar.

Here is the recipe for my Halloween Popcorn

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INGREDIENTS

  • 1 bag kettle corn or salted popcorn, popped by bag instructions
  • 1/3 cup candy corn
  • 1/4 cup semi sweet mini chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Cover a baking sheet with wax paper and spread out the popcorn so that it is in one layer
  2. Put the candy corn in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30 second intervals siring after each interval. Once the candy corn has melted, use a spoon to drizzle it over the popcorn.
  3. Place the chocolate chips in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave at 30 second intervals siring after each interval.  When the chocolate has completely melted, add the vegetable oil to the melted chocolate.  This will help the chocolate drizzle better over the popcorn.  Use a spoon to drizzle the chocolate over the popcorn.
  4. After both the melted candy corn and chocolate have been drizzled over the popcorn, let the popcorn sit for about 20 to 30 min so that the candy and chocolate hardens.
  5. Once hardened, remove from baking sheet, break into smaller pieces, and serve!

This is a nice easy (and healthier) way to enjoy Halloween candy without actually consuming that much candy! A win-win situation all around.  It is also really quite cheap and one batch of this only costs about $1.50 to make! I ended up serving this at a small Halloween party I threw for my friends, and it went FAST!  So let the kids have the candy and help yourself to some Halloween popcorn! Enjoy!