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Holiday Tarts with a Twist

November 14, 2018

By

Pear Chestnut Tart.  RJ GRANT/DREAMTIME

 

IRELAND HOPPING | Margaret M. Johnson

            If you think you can’t celebrate Thanksgiving without pumpkin, pecan, or apple pie, think again! My travels across the pond always result in a few new recipes, including these tarts (pies without a top) that include riffs on holiday favorites.

PUMPKIN AND TREACLE TART

SERVES 6 TO 8

At Dromoland Castle in County Clare, Executive chef David McCann, a fixture there since 1995, combines his classical training with an elegant, creative style that makes dining there more than a “special occasion.” In this recipe, he adds fresh pumpkin to a traditional treacle tart for lovely results.

For the pastry

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • Pinch of salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons cold water
  • 1 large egg yolk

For the filling

2 cups golden syrup, such as Lyle’s brand, or light corn syrup

12 ounces fresh pumpkin, diced

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Pinch of ground ginger

1 cup plain breadcrumbs

1/3 cup ground hazelnuts

Whipped cream, for serving

  1. Make pastry. In a large bowl (or food processor), combine flour, salt, and butter. Pulse or work in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in just enough cold water to bind dough.
  2. Dust a work surface with flour. Turn out dough, form into a ball, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  3. Cut off one third of pastry and reserve for lattice top. On a floured surface, roll out pastry to a 10 1/2-inch round. Press pastry into 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom.
  4. Make filling. Preheat oven to 325°F. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat syrup. Add pumpkin, lemon zest, juice, and ginger. Bring to boil and then remove from heat immediately. Stir in breadcrumbs and hazelnuts; mix well.
  5. Spoon filling into prepared pan. Roll out reserved pastry trimmings and cut into 1/2-inch wide and 10-inch long strips. Arrange strips at intervals across tart and then place a second set across to make a lattice top; trim edges. Whisk egg yolk and brush across lattice.
  6. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until crust is browned and filling is bubbling. Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool before releasing the side of the pan. Slice and serve with whipped cream.

PEAR AND CHESTNUT TART

SERVES 6 TO 8

On a recent trip to Scotland, Allan McLaughlin, chef at the charming Loch Lomond Arms Hotel, featured this tart as a “special” during my visit. He served it with Drambuie-flavored whipped cream but you could certainly substitute your favorite Irish whiskey.

For the pastry

3 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

8 tablespoons butter

2 large eggs

For the filling

1 cup sweetened chestnut purée

4 pears, peeled, cored and sliced

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon sugar

Whipped cream, for serving

  1. Make pastry. In a large bowl (or food processor), sift flour and sugar. Pulse or work in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add eggs and stir to combine.
  2. Dust a work surface with flour. Turn out dough, form into a ball, then wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 15 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350° F. On a floured surface, roll out pastry to a 12-inch round. Press pastry into a 10-inch tart pan with removable bottom. With your fingers, press to form thick sides. Prick bottom and sides of pastry and bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Make filling. Spoon chestnut purée into pasty and spread to cover bottom. Starting in center, arrange pear slices in concentric circles over filling; sprinkle with sugar.Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until filling is browned and pears are tender. Remove from oven and transfer to wire rack to cool before releasing the side of the pan. Cut into slices and serve with whipped cream.

CRANBERRY-BLUE CHEESE TART

SERVES 8 TO 10

I love this tart as a starter or as part of an after-dinner cheese board. I think you will, too.

1 refrigerated pie crust

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese

1/2 cup crumbled Cashel Blue cheese

2 tablespoons milk

1 large egg, beaten

3/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries

2 tablespoons chopped chives

1 teaspoon white pepper

3 tablespoons chopped pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Unroll pie crust and transfer to a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Press dough firmly against the sides and bottom. Fold excess crust under and press to form a thick crust edge; flute edges. Prick bottom and side with fork and bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until lightly browned. Cool 10 minutes; reduce temperature to 375° F.
  2. Make filling. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and blue cheese with an electric mixer on medium until blended. Beat in milk and egg until smooth. Stir in cranberries, chives, pepper and 1 tablespoon pecans. Spread into prepared pan and sprinkle with remaining pecans.
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until filling is set. Remove from oven and let cool for 30 minutes before releasing the side of the pan. Cut into slices or cover and refrigerate for up to 24 hours.

 

Margaret Johnson’s “Recipes” page now includes “Ireland Hopping: Adventures in Food, Drink, and Travel.” For further details on her work, including how to order her cookbooks, visit www.irishcook.com

 

 

 

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