Asian pear and Quark cheese tart
Prep Time: 40 minutes total + time for pasta frolla to chill
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert cheese pear Italian fall
Ingredients (serves 10-12)
- 1/3 cup ultrafine sugar or 1/2 cup powdered sugar [64 g / 2 1/4 ounces] (see Note 1)
- 1/2 cup [65 g / 2 1/3 ounces] unbleached all-purpose flour (see Note 2)
- 1/2 cup [60 g / 2 1/8 ounces] whole-wheat pastry flour
- 1/4 cup [28 g / 1 ounce] almond flour, or almond meal
- 2 tablespoons millet flour + 2 tablespoons sorghum flour [28 g / 1 ounce total] OR the same amount of barley flour or of unbleached all-purpose flour
- A pinch of salt
- 6 tablespoons [85 g / 3 ounces] cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 large egg (possibly from pastured poultry), lightly whisked to blend yolk and white
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract of good quality
- 14 ounces / 400 g Asian pears, possibly organic (see Note 3)
- 12 ounces / 340 g fresh Quark or fromage blanc (see Note 4)
- 1 large egg (possibly from pastured poultry)
- 2 1/8 ounces / 60 g ultrafine sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract of good quality
Note 1: Ultrafine or superfine sugar is also referred to as baker's sugar. If you cannot find it, you can make your own by putting some regular granulated sugar in a food processor or blender and letting it run until the sugar is finely ground.
Note 2: The less gluten (as indicated by % protein) in the flour, the better. Do not use bread flour. For my latest rendition I used Perfect Pastry blend by King Arthur Flour.
Note 3: This is a bit more than you need, but it is better to have some leftover slices than not enough. You can always have a pear snack.
Note 4: If you cannot find or make either cheese, you can try using another light fresh cheese that is of similar consistency and flavor.Make the pasta frolla
Put sugar, flours, and salt in the bowl of the food processor and pulse a few times to mix.
Add butter and pulse a few times until the mixture has the consistency of coarse meal.
Empty food processor's bowl onto your work surface.
If you don't have a food processor: Whisk together sugar, flours and salt in a bowl. Rub or cut the butter into the sugar and flour mixture until it has the consistency of coarse crumbs. You can do this in the bowl or on your work surface, using your fingertips or an implement of choice.
Make a well in the center of the mounded flour and butter mixture and pour the beaten egg and vanilla extract into it.
Use a fork to incorporate the liquid into the solid ingredients, then use your fingertips.
Knead lightly just until the dough comes together into a ball.
Shape the dough into a flat disk 1 inch / 2.5 cm thick and wrap in plastic wrap. Place the dough in the refrigerator and chill for at least two hours. I usually make it the evening before and refrigerate it overnight.Make the first two layers of the crostata
To bake the crostata, I recommend using a 9 or 9 1/2-inch [23-24 cm] fluted round tart pan with removable bottom, about 1-inch [2.5 cm] high.
Preheat the oven to 350 F [177 C].
Take the pasta frolla out of the fridge and unwrap it. You can roll the dough on a piece of parchment paper or the plastic film in which it was wrapped. This will make the later transfer easier.
Lightly dust with flour the top of the dough and the surface on which you are rolling it. Keep some flour handy to lightly dust the dough as you go along.
If the dough is very firm, start by pressing the dough with the rolling pin from the middle to each end, moving the rolling pin by a pin's width each time; turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat; when it softens, start rolling gently.
Roll the dough into a circle about 1/8 inch [3 mm] thick. If you used parchment paper or plastic wrap as rolling surface, flip the dough over the tart pan, centering it, and delicately press it all around so the corners are well covered. Peel away the wrap.
Trim the excess dough hanging over the edges of the pan and use it, as necessary, where you find that you came up short. Press the remaining dough around the border into the sides of the pan making sure the border is an even thickness all the way around. You will have only a small amount of dough left over, which you can use to make a thicker edge or a couple of cookies.
Prick the shell with a fork in several places. Refrigerate while you prepare the pears.
Rinse well the pears, quarter and core them and then cut each quarter into slices no more than 1/4 inch [6 mm] thick.
Take the shell out of the refrigerator and distribute the pear slices on it to create a layer. Having tried both ways, I prefer starting from the outside and make circles until I reach the center. Note that this layer will not be visible so while you want an even distribution of fruit, you don't need to worry about making a pretty pattern.
Put the crostata in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.Prepare the Quark cream
While the crostata is in the oven, in a food processor or blender, blend the last 4 ingredients of the filling until smooth.
The consistency of the cream should be similar to that of pastry cream. If the cream you obtain is more liquid, add to it 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch and blend it well.Add the third layer and finish baking the crostata
Take the crostata out of the oven and distribute the Quark cream evenly over the pears. If the consistency is right, you will not have any spilling over the edges.
Put the crostata back into the oven, still at 350 F [177 C] and bake for 20 minutes, then check and bake a bit longer if needed (my crostata needs another 5 minutes). The crostata is ready when the crust is light golden and the topping is set.
Remove the crostata from the oven and let cool slightly on a rack. If you have used a tart pan with a removable bottom, release the tart base from the fluted tart ring.
Let cool a bit longer on the rack, then, with the help of a wide spatula, slide the crostata onto a serving plate. Make sure it is completely cool before slicing and serving.