Sunday, November 06, 2011

Eat: A tart that tastes as good as it looks

Get ready for something a little different. This week’s recipe for a Pear and Gorgonzola Tart had me feeling like a fancy housewife from the fifties--minus the pearls and A-line skirt. In fact, I’m pretty sure that I was wearing pajamas when I made this, but that is beside the point. The point is that this dish is downright beautiful and boasts a full, complex flavor. Named after an Italian village, gorgonzola is a fairly common cheese known for its green-blue coloration and sharp taste. “Fun” fact: the distinct kick of gorgonzola actually comes from the penicillin mold that is added to the otherwise creamy and subtle cheese. Feel free to share that tidbit at your next soirée to score major points with your highfaluting friends.

I found this recipe on a carton of cheese that I used for my (amazing) Fig & Pear Pizza. The recipe was swiftly cut from the packaging and secured via magnet to my refrigerator. It has been waiting there patiently until this week when I finally resolved to try it. Now, I recognize that there may be those who hesitate to try something with a strong cheese flavor but I encourage you to bake outside of your comfort zone with this particular recipe. It is worth noting that my husband isn't shy about his dislike of most cheeses, so as I labored I became mentally prepared to eat the entire tart alone. But after one bite, he was hooked! So go ahead, be adventurous and give this dish a try.

TIME: 15-20 minutes
YIELDS: 10-12 servings

2 tablespoons of butter
2-3 pears, cored, peeled, sliced lengthwise
8 oz. cream cheese at room temperature
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
4-5 oz. crumbled gorgonzola cheese, divided

approximately 24 graham crackers
6 tablespoons of butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. To prepare your crust, place the graham crackers in a plastic bag. Using a rolling pin, roll until finely crushed. This is easier to do in small batches. In medium bowl, stir together the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter. Press the mixture into a pie pan and bake for 8-10 minutes.

2. While the crust is baking, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat in a skillet. Add the pear slices and cook for 8-10 minutes. Occasionally turn the pear slices, checking for a light golden color.

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cream cheese and heavy whipping cream. I recommend first cutting the cream cheese into small pieces to make combining easier. Stir in half of the gorgonzola cheese, blending thoroughly.

4. Spoon small portions of the blend into the crust and spread evenly. The smaller portions you use, the easier it will be to spread. Otherwise you might break up the delicate crust.

5. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Arrange the pear slices in whatever pattern you choose. I fanned them in a circular fashion. Serve at room temperature and store in a refrigerator.

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