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Pear and Goat Cheese Tart

This recipe is from Laura Werlin’s, “The All American Cheese and Wine Book”. I realize the book as been out for a couple of years, but I continue to use it as a reference when pairing recipes I create and the wines that might go with them.

One classic cheese pairing is drizzling artisan honey on a tangy blue and enjoying it with a port along with roasted nuts. Wanting to continue exploring sweet and savory cheese combinations, I made this particular dessert several times over the last couple of months using local chevre from Stickney Hill Farms [1], Kimball, MN.

Dough:
1 ?cups (7.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 to 4 tablespoons cold water

Filling:
8 ounces fresh goat cheese, at room temperature
3 tablespoons sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
¾ teaspoon vanilla
¼ – ?  cup pine nuts
3 medium-sized pears (about 1 pound), preferably Comice or ripe Bosc, peeled, cored, and sliced ¼-inch thick
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 ½ teaspoons large-granule decorative sugar, or use regular sugar

To make the dough: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse twice. Add the butter and process just until the mixture looks a little like cornmeal. 8 to 10 seconds. Don’t over-process or your crust will turn out tough.

Add the water, 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing between additions. The dough should begin to hold together, but you do not want it to form a ball. This will mean there is too much water. Turn the dough out onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Pat it into a flattened disk, wrap with the plastic, and chill for at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Place the rack in the bottom third of the oven. Have a fluted 11-inch tart pan with removable bottom ready.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Roll out a 15-inch circle of dough and carefully place it in the tart pan. Fold the overhang back into the pan and pinch to form a ¼-inch rise above the pan. Line the bottom and side of the dough with foil and fill tart pan with pie weights or dried beans. Cook for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven, remove the foil and weights and let crust cool.

To make filling: In a medium bowl beat together the cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla. Stir in the pine nuts. Spread a thin layer evenly over the prepared tart shell.

Lay the pear slices over the filling, close to the edges, slightly overlapping, in a circular pattern, continuing in toward the middle of the tart. Brush the pears with the melted butter and sprinkle with sugar.

Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake at 350ºF for 35 to 45 minutes, or until the edges of the tart are golden-brown and the pears have softened and turned brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving.

Photography by David Paul Schmit