My wonderful next-door neighbor Diana sent a text earlier this week asking if I had a recipe for Pear and Stilton Tart.
“No, Diana… no, I do not.” Until now, that is.
It’s pear “season”, which means fall, so there is an abundance of fresh beautiful pears all over local markets. All shapes and sizes, and this time of year through to the holidays, I’m really digging this fruit.
I set out making this tart with the same idea I had when making my Goat Cheese Shallot Tart. A nice crust and creamy flavorful base, but this time adding pear on top and baking. The result? It was wonderful!
So, a couple of things:
I thought by using firm (not too ripe) Bartlett Pears it would really add a lot of pear flavor, and Bartlett pears seem to be the go-to pears in markets year round. At least here in Oklahoma. When baked the pears still extracted a little too much juice, even though they were more firm than I would traditionally use, which made sections of the walnut crust “soggy”. Next time I will use Bosc pears because those are better for baking.
About that Walnut Crust… it was light and crumbly. I really enjoyed it. Now I did treat the pastry as I do all of my pastries with flour, pulsing in cold butter, and ice water. Last minute I decided to add fresh thyme and the result was a buttery, flaky, flavorful walnut crust. If you have problems using wheat flour, go all in using walnuts. Pulse into a fine meal, add melted butter, salt, thyme, and press into a pie plate like you would graham cracker crust.
Lastly, for a more savory treat, try adding crisped and chopped pancetta or bacon. I think it would be marvelous in this... especially if making smaller bites for a cocktail party. Let me know if you do and how it turns out!
Pear and Stilton Tart with Walnut-Thyme Crust
1 full cup halved Walnuts
1 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons Ice Water
In a food processor add the halved walnuts, flour, and salt. Process until the walnuts are broken down to the texture of coarse cornmeal.
Add the butter and pulse until the butter resembles coarse meal. With the processor running add the ice water until the dough gathers inside the bowl.
Remove the dough to a lightly floured surface. Sprinkle the fresh thyme on top and gently work the dough to a ball. Flatten the dough, wrap the dough and chill the dough in the fridge for at least one hour or overnight.
When ready to use roll the dough out to 1/4” thickness. Lightly drape into your prepared fluted tart pan. Press the dough into the sides and bottom loosely (the pastry will shrink when cooking so don’t stretch the dough). Place the whole thing in the fridge to chill while the oven is preheating.
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Remove the pasty from the fridge and prick the bottom (not the sides) with a fork. Add a sheet of parchment paper to the inside of the pastry shell and fill with dried beans, rice, or pie weights on top, to “blind bake” the shell. This prevents the pastry from rising while baking. Bake 12 minutes.
Carefully remove the paper and pie weights from inside of the pastry shell and bake an additional five minutes to “brown” the bottom. Remove the pastry shell from the oven and cool completely.
5 firm Bosc pears peeled, cored, and sliced thinly ( penny to nickel thickness)
8 ounces Cream Cheese, softened
6 ounces Stilton cheese, crumbled (may substitute Gorgonzola or a firmer blue cheese)
1 large egg room temp
Dash or two of Worcestershire sauce
Fresh thyme stems
In a mixing bowl whip the cream cheese with a mixer until smooth. Add 4-5 ounces of the crumbled Stilton cheese, reserving a small amount to sprinkle on top before baking. Mix in the Stilton to the cream cheese along with the whole egg until fully combined. Scrape down your bowl and add the Worcestershire sauce and mix once more.
Spoon out the mixture into your cooled walnut thyme pastry shell. Smooth out making sure to reach all the sides and corner. Smooth the top evenly.
Layer the sliced pears on top, shingle style, and in whatever pattern you think works. Dot the top of the pears with the reserved stilton cheese.
Place the tart in a 375-degree oven and bake for 20 minutes. The center may rise a bit and that is okay.
Remove the tart from the oven and cool completely. Before presenting and cutting add fresh thyme stems on top for flair and the acknowledgment that you are one bad MF’er and know how to bake a Pear Stilton Tart! Enjoy! -Scotty