Countdown to Christmas: Dessert – Ginger Pear Tarts


Here it is, the big day. I hope you have all that shopping done.
You’ve planned for the appetizers, the sides and the main attraction…
I hope you’ve saved room for dessert.

I couldn’t resist something spiced and a little lighter than a cake or that never ending tray of sweet offerings that nibble me into a coma. The gingerbread was such a hit, I decided to use it as the base of the tart. It holds up pretty well as a crust and with a light cream there’s plenty of room for spicy, soaked pears.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. I hope you enjoy the Holidays, the food and your families!

POACHED SPICED PEARS

2 pears, peeled halved and cored; I used Abate Fetel
1 Cup Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Water
1 Vanilla Pod, split
1 Cinnamon Stick, 2″ in length
Zest Strips of 1 Lemon
2 Tablespoons Brandy

Combine the sugar and the water in a large saucepan over a medium high heat.
Add the vanilla pod, cinnamon and lemon strips.
Once the sugar has dissolved add the brandy and the pear halves.
If the pears are not submerged, just cook until softened then turn them over, occasionally basting, if necessary.
Remove when softened, about 20 minutes. Cool and store in the liquid until ready to use.
May be made two days in advance.

TOFU CREAM

300g Soft Silken Tofu
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
4 Tablespoons Confectioners Sugar
1 Tablespoon Arrowroot Powder
1  (2-inch) Fresh Ginger, peeled
1/4  teaspoon Salt
1/4 Cup Pastry Flour

Grate the ginger and squeeze to remove the juice, should equal one tablespoon.
In a food processor, blend the tofu, ginger and lemon juice along with the vanilla, sugar, salt, flour and arrowroot powder.
Serve cold or baked.

GINGERBREAD COOKIE CRUST (half batch)

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
Roll out the chilled cookie dough. Cut into rounds to fit your tart shells.
Dock with a fork to prevent excessive air bubbles and bake for 10 minutes..
While the tart shells cool, prepare the tofu cream and thinly slice the poached pears.
Dollop the cream and top with the sliced pears.
Return to the oven and bake for 15 – 20 minutes, until the tofu cream is set and firm.
Makes 6 four inch tarts.

Chocolate Chestnut Biscotti with Candied Clementine


Not that I’m the authority but I think that it’s safe to say that Holiday baking is may “officially” begin, now that it’s actually December.

Be it that we took our kids to the community Santa Claus parade or that was today was the first of December, Holidays get me to hum classic carols and remember highlights of Christmas Past. With my brain swirling of roasting chestnuts and the clementine I almost mistook as a lump of coal down in the depths of my stocking toe, I decided the first cookie of the year should be able to last as long as that heart wrenching childhood memory.

Memory aside, it’s always a thrill to bring home the first box of “Christmas Oranges”, as my daughter refers to them. Cracking into them fills a room with a special kind of happiness only little orange packages can bring.

With clementines and cookies on my mind, it wasn’t too tough a decision to get that this biscotti would be the first cookie of the season.

Biscotti is a double baked, super crunchy cookie, perfect for packing in just about any flavour combination and, of course, dipping into mulled wine, coffee or nog.


Continue reading Chocolate Chestnut Biscotti with Candied Clementine