Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pear and Cream Cheese Crostada with Cinnamon Caramel

Ladies and gentleman...may I introduce....the yummy! Oh yes, this is a good one....totally simple...but ever impressive. If making a pie makes you nervous, this will ease your may never go back to a traditional pie. Make will be so happy if you do!

Cinnamon Caramel

¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup heavy cream
pinch of salt
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

In heavy 2-quart saucepan over moderately high heat, combine sugar with 1/4 cup water and bring to boil. Continue cooking, swirling pan occasionally (do not stir), until light golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cream, cinnamon, and salt. Return to heat and bring to boil. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Look at all those yummy juices all bubbly and delicious!

Butter Crust
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter very cold and cut into pieces
¼ cup ice water

In a medium sized bowl, combine the flour, sugar and salt. Add the butter pieces and, using a pastry blender or 2 dinner knives held between your fingers, cut the butter into the flour and continue until the mixture is crumbly and looks like the size of peas. You can also pulse in a food processor.
Add the water one tablespoon at a time, mixing in between additions (or pulse). You'll notice that a solid piece of dough is forming. If the mixture is still dry and crumbly add another tablespoon of water. The dough is ready when it holds together without crumbling. Best if refrigerated for about an hour.
Shape into a ball and flatten slightly. Try not to overwork this dough with your hands. A quick knead is fine, but your hands give off heat and if you handle it too much it will lose the tenderness and flakiness that makes pie dough so good!

Pear and Cream Cheese Crostada

6 Large pears sliced
1 orange zested and squeezed
1 cup cream cheese
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cloves
pinch of salt
3 Tablespoons flour

Combine all the ingredients excluding the brown sugar and cream cheese in a bowl and toss. To make a large crostada, use all of the butter crust recipe or split it in half and make two smaller crostadas. You want to roll the dough out just like a pie crust and place it on a pizza stone. If you don't have a pizza stone, a large sheet pan will do (I suggest foiling it first). Spread the cream cheese onto the center of a rolled out pastry crust and sprinkle with the brown sugar. Next add the pear mixture and loosely fold the edges of the crust toward the center. Brush the crust with cream or a beaten egg. Sprinkle with coarse sugar. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes or until center is bubbly and crust is golden.

Check back soon for an appetizer.

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