I tried a new recipe out tonight and ended up surprising myself. I usually don't go in for anything too gourmet, but even though this made up quite easily it felt fancy and somewhat decadent. As usual I went hunting for recipes and then adapting one to suit my own ideas.
This recipe is adapted from one at Cookstr.com.
First, you'll need a baked nine inch pie crust in a tart pan (or I used a steep sided pie pan.
For your filling you'll need the following:
2 pears peeled, cored, and sliced
white wine for poaching (I used some Riesling I had on hand)
1/3c brown sugar/succanat
1/4c white sugar (I used zylitol)
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
3T milk or cream
1 1/2T almond paste
The original recipe called for canned pears, but I used fresh and poached them in a mixture of white wine, nutmeg, cinnamon, and sugar. I used just enough wine to almost cover the pears. Once the pears were tender I removed them from the liquid and reduced the liquid to about half a cup -by which time the liquid resembled a dark caramel. (Warning, the boiling wine smelled pretty foul to me until I added the cinnamon and reduced the liquid. Afterwards it tasted great so don't get scared if it smells weird.)
While the liquid is reducing mix together the remaining ingredients in a food processor.
Here is one place where you might want to play around. I ended up arranging the pears in the bottom on the pie pan, pouring the sugar mixture on top, and pouring the custard mixture over all. You could also put the pears on top. I don't think it really matters that much. Either way reserve a tablespoon or two of the liquid because if you pour it on top of the custard you can swirl it around with a fork or a toothpick, and it looks really pretty. Last of all sprinkle some slivered almonds over the top and bake in an oven at 325 for 30 minutes or until the custard is set. Let cool on a wire rack before serving.
This is hands down the prettiest dessert I've ever made. The custard turns a lovely golden color and the sugars caramelize into interesting little swirls. I was worried about the almonds on the top burning, but they ended up adding a lovely punctuation mark to the whole presentation. I think it's also going to be a fun dessert to play around with. There's proportions to play with for one, but I could also change up the flavors (Lemon zest? Red wine? Pecans?) and presentation (different designs and layering methods). For being fairly rich (all that mascarpone) this tart doesn't feel at all heavy like a cheesecake or some pudding desserts. If you accept my usual caveat that I rarely measure and these amounts are generally estimates I think it's worth a shot.