The weather is finally changing. Yesterday afternoon, after a morning of clouds and rain, we noticed the drop in temperature. That crispness that seems to hang in the air as the summer turns to fall. We proceed to excitedly open all the windows and sliding doors, of which our house has a few. We turned off the air, and allowed our house to be immersed with the lovely smells of fall. Our Bernese mountain dog also must’ve noticed that change, because she was extremely anxious to be outside all day, not leaving us alone for a second until we took her to the dog park. She jumped for joy and frolicked (quite literally, my dog exudes happiness) and ran around like a fall-crazed puppy.
Yesterday night, I woke up in the middle of the night suddenly, after a strange dream of volcanos emerging under the city of Chicago, clutching my thin blanket close. I realized that, not only was I safe from said volcanoes, but that it was cold.Time to break out the big comforter! My favorite way to sleep. Although first I had to make a mental plan of what to do in case of said volcano scenario. Anyone else do that after a bad dream?
I love this point in the year. Sure, summer is full of fun and sun and hot days, but the fall is my all-time favorite. The cool crisp air, the snuggling up in sweaters and blankets, the produce in season, and, of course, the return of oven baked desserts.
Lately, I have been craving chocolate. Really rich, decadent chocolate desserts. That’s a bit odd for me, I’m not usually that kind of dessert person. Usually for me, my favorite sweet is something that involves fruit. Fruit pie, fruit crumble, fruit crisp… or this.
I love this dessert for few reasons. Number one, pie crust. Have you ever had anything bad that involves a pie crust? NO. Making a your own pie crust is very simple, and doesn’t take much time. If you haven’t tried it yet, try my pie crust below. I tried a million different recipes from Pinterest and beyond and this one was by far the best. Thank you, Sally’s Baking Addiction!
That being said, you can totally buy pie crust at the store. I won’t tell.
*Let’s talk cheese. When you get to the recipe, you’re going to want to come back to this section! I used this awesome cheese that my cheese lady (yes, I have one and we are basically best friends) recommended when I told her what I was making. Not only do you need to get friendly with your local cheese lady, but you also need to get your hands on this caramel cheese she gave (sold) me. It’s a Norwegian cheese called Gjetost and it is THE BEST EVER. Seriously. For alternatives, people seem to like to use blue cheese with pears, but wouldn’t be my top choice. A brie, camembert, or a goat cheese (with a little honey or preserves) would be great. Just don’t choose a hard cheese. You want something that will melt.
Pears en CroutePrint Recipe
- 3 ripe pears, Anjou or Bosc are best
- 3 ounces of your preferred cheese (See *Let's talk cheese above)
- Honey to drizzle
- 1 egg + 1 tbsp milk for egg wash
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, cold
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, frozen
- 1/4 cup water and vodka, half of each, also ice cold
- 1/4 cup + 3 tbsp vegetable shortening, frozen
- 1/2 tsp salt
First, prepare the piecrust. Place the flour and salt into a food processor and process briefly until combined. Cut the butter into 1 inch cubes and add to the processor. Process briefly until butter in the mixture is in pea sized crumbs. With the processor running, slowly add the water and vodka through the shoot. Do not over process. Process only until the dough has formed. Large chunks of butter good, this allows for a flaky crust.
Flour a working surface, and turn dough onto it. Knead lightly until nice dough forms. Form into a round, flat disc and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to overnight.
Cut the top of your pears off, about 1 1/2 inch. Using a paring knife, cut out the core of the pear, including the rough parts near the bottom. Cut your cheese of choice (see above note) into smallest chunks, and stuff as much as you can into the center. The cheese will melt during baking, and will melt into the pear, so make sure to stuff as much as possible. Replace the top of the pear.
When you are ready to assemble, preheat the oven to 350°F, and grease a small baking sheet. Pat the pears completely dry. Roll out the piecrust onto a floured surface into a flat rectangular shape, about 1/4 inch thick. Cut the crust into strips. Starting at the top of the pear, slowly wrap the piecrust around the pear. Do not leave any space between strips as you wrap, otherwise the pastry will fall down while baking. You want to wrap the pear as shown in the picture, leaving no space and pressing the strip into the overlapping strip as you go. The crust must be firm in it's place before going into the oven.
Whisk together the egg and milk. Brush the pastry with the egg wash. Place in oven on center rack, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then drizzle with honey and serve.
The temperature of the ingredients going into the pie crust is very important. Because the ingredients are very cold, they won't melt as you make the crust. Chunks of butter and shortening means more flaky layers after baking!