Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pear & Cream Cheese Tart aka Thanksgiving Dessert

In honor of Robert getting his driver's license yesterday (woop woop!) I decided to go hog wild and make dessert on a week night. After all, he does love pears, and I happened to have some perfectly ripe ones on hand. 

Blah blah blah, fast forward, needle skids off record, screeeeeeeeeeech.
He doesn't eat cooked pears.


But the rest of us shoveled this in like it was our J.O.B.

This dessert is not only simple to make (foolproof, even!), it's delicious and so much prettier than pumpkin pie.

(I'm sorry I keep hating on pumpkin pie.)

It screams Thanksgiving Dinner.

You'll want to buy your pears several days ahead and let them ripen up. If you're in a hurry, put them in a paper bag, roll the top closed, and forget about them for a couple days. Your pears will ideally be super juicy and quite soft. I used red pears this time, but any kind will do.

The end result is a perfectly crunchy crust, a cheesecakey interior, and sweet, juicy, spiced pears on top. It's divine. Even my "I don't have a sweet tooth" husband had two slices.

It's subtle. It's fancy. It's classic.
It's the Natalie Portman of the dessert buffet. 

It's deceptively easy to throw together.
It'll make you feel like you deserve your own cooking show.

 Pear & Cream Cheese Tart

1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup sugar, divided
1 cup flour
1 pkg (8 0z) cream cheese, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
3 thinly sliced pears, peeled

Preheat oven to 425.
Beat butter and 1/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy. (I do this in my Kitchenaid mixer.)
Add flour, mix well.
Spread firmly onto bottom and up the sides of a springform pan (I push it about 3/4 of an inch up the sides of a 10-inch pan. A 9 inch pan is a more standard size, so you could push up about an inch.)

Beat cream cheese and 1/3 cup sugar in same bowl.
Add egg and vanilla, mix well.
Spread evenly over crust.

Combine remaining 1/3 cup sugar with cinnamon and nutmeg.
Toss sliced pears with sugar mixture until covered.
Arrange pears in concentric circles on top of cream cheese filling, starting with the outside and working in.
Eat any left-over cinnamon sugar pears.
(Do not share.)

Bake 10 minutes then reduce to 375 and bake 25 minutes or until golden brown at edges and the middle is set.
Cool on wire rack.
Remove outside of springform pan.
Refrigerate tart for a few hours until cool and well set.