Rustic Pear and Pecan Galette with Champagne Caramel

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I love dessert. But what I love more than eating dessert is making it. I did get my start in sweets, after all. At the age of 6, I was whipping out brownies and cookies like no one’s business. And I’m sure it’s that 6-year-old inside of me that still craves pulling out the sugar jar and cookie sheet to this day. But despite my immense love for baking sweets, I actually don’t have much of a sweet tooth (shh, don’t tell the chocoholics in my family). Don’t get me wrong, a delicious meal isn’t complete without a sweet finish. But my idea of dessert these days plays with the sweet just as much as the savory.

Here’s something I’ve learned about baking desserts: it’s hard! I’ve worked as a cake designer, pastry chef, and savory chef and I will not hesitate to say that those sweet chefs are extremely talented people. Not only do you have to be an artist and a sculptor, but you have to be a scientist as well. One minor variation in measurement takes your soufflé from fab to flop. This is probably why I love it so much: I love a challenge. It fuels my creativity. Buuuut, then there are the days when the savory portion of the meal needs to be just as buzz-worthy as the dessert. So this is where the galette comes in. Its rustic beauty is simple, full of flavor, and takes a fraction of the time to prepare with little to no stress. Pair it with champagne caramel (recipe below) and homemade pomegranate ricotta (recipe to come!) and you’ll have a dessert your friends will be knocking at your door for daily.

img_4165Rustic Pear and Pecan Galette

Yields 8 portions

Ingredients:

  • 4 d’anjou pears
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp.  plus 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-½ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp. ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. plus ½ tsp. salt
  • ¾ cup pecans, toasted
  • 2 tsp. sugar, plus extra for topping
  • ¾ tsp. salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
  • ice water

img_4162Preheat oven to 350°F.  In a food processor, blend the toasted pecans, 1 cup flour, 2 tsp. sugar, ½ tsp. salt, ½ tsp. cinnamon, ¼ tsp. ginger, and butter. Add 1 tbsp. of ice water at a time until the dough comes together in one piece. Roll dough into a ball, flatten, tightly wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hours or overnight (dough can be chilled for 2 days).

For the pears, squeeze the juice of 1 lemon into a large bowl. Cut the core out of the pears and slice thinly lengthwise (if you want it to be a SUPER rustic tart, don’t worry about the cleanliness of your cuts. Just try to make them are as close in size as possible so that the dough lies flat when baked). Toss the pears with the lemon juice occasionally so they don’t brown. Add the brown sugar, 1 tbsp. flour, 1 tsp. cinnamon, ½ tsp. ginger, ¼ tsp. nutmeg, and ¼ tsp. salt to the bowl with the pears and mix gently but thoroughly.

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Roll out your dough into a 12-inch circle (about 1/8″ thick) on parchment paper. Place the pears evenly in the center of the dough, leaving about 1 ½” to the edge. Fold the dough up around the pears gently, making sure to stretch or cover any holes that appear. Brush the milk or cream around the top of the exposed dough and sprinkle with sugar. Transfer the galette and parchment paper to a cookie sheet. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until edges are golden brown.

img_4163Champagne Caramel

Yields 1 cup

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups champagne or prosecco
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 cloves (optional)
  • 1 star anise (optional)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter

img_4169In a small saucepan on medium heat, boil champagne, star anise, and cloves until it reduces to about ¼ cup (about 15 minutes). Discard cloves and star anise and set aside. In medium saucepan, combine water and sugar carefully (don’t slosh the water around or the sugar will crystalize before the caramel is made). Cook over medium heat, gently swirling the pan occasionally so the sugar doesn’t burn. After about 5 minutes the sugar will start to turn gold brown. Remove from heat and whisk in the reduced champagne and butter (the sugar will bubble rapidly, so be careful!). Drizzle over galette… or ice cream…. or cereal… or just have a spoonful of it!

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