We were cleaning out the test kitchen refrigerators just after the holidays, and we came across two gems that we couldn’t throw away: perfectly ripe pears, and a 3 pound bag of fresh cranberries. Somewhere in our memory banks we knew that there had to be recipes that combine both fruits into a dessert – after doing a search, we came across many, such as pies, tarts, cobblers, crisps. Since our roots are Italian, we wanted to try our hand at a crostata.
A crostata is simply “an open-faced fruit tart, often with a decorative lattice top” – so it’s more like a free-form pie. You can also think of it as a dessert pizza. Recipes for crostata date back to the 15th century, way before Betty Crocker taught us all how to make pie. Like making pie, the trick is in the dough and how you handle the fruit – but much, much easier. We’ve tested out a number of crostata dough recipes, and settled on a rich, slightly sweet version that contains some egg.
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- 1-1/4 cups flour, plus extra for work surface
- 1/4 teaspoon table salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick, or 1/4 pound) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 large egg yolk mixed with 2 tablespoons very cold water
- In a food processor with a medium to large bowl, combine together flour, salt, and sugar, then pulse 5 to 6 times until well combined. Sprinkle butter cubes over flour mixture, then pulse 10 to 12 times until the dough looks like cornmeal with some pea-sized bits of butter remaining.
- Sprinkle yolk/water mixture over dough, then run the processor until it begins to come together. If needed, add another tablespoon cold water. Do not over process.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead 3 times. Gather dough into a ball; then press down into a disk and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes.
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, plus 1/3 cup for garnish
- 4-5 large ripe pears (such as d’Anjou or Bartlett)
- Juice from 1/4 lemon
- 1 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar, divided
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- Flour for work surface
- Pie Dough
- 1 large egg, beaten well
- 2 teaspoons Turbinado sugar
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 8 ounces white chocolate, cut into small pieces.
- Prepare cranberry sauce: Heat 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water until boiling. Add 1 cup cranberries, and reduce to medium heat. Stir for about 10 minutes, until all the cranberries have popped and the mixture thickens. Cool to room temperature.
- Heat oven to 400°. Peel, core, and cut pears into 1/4-inch-thick slices, place in a bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice. Combine 1/3 cup sugar with the cornstarch. Toss the sugar/cornstarch mixture together with the pears in a bowl and set aside for at least 20 minutes.
- Remove the pears from the bowl, and save the liquid. Add the liquid to a small pan, and heat to medium. (For a bit more interest, you can add a tablespoon of pear liqueur). Stir until thickened (about 5 minutes). Reserve thickened liquid.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll crostata dough out into a circle about 16 inches wide and 1/8 inch thick. (The circle doesn’t have to be perfect.) Transfer dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, or use about a tablespoon of corn meal spread over the baking sheet (We prefer the corn meal, since it adds a bit of texture).
- Arrange half the pear slices over the dough, leaving a 2-inch border all around. Sprinkle with half the zest, a few tablespoons of the thickened pear liquid, then add half the thickened cranberries over the pears. Repeat with remaining pear, berries, and zest. Add the 1/3 cup of uncooked cranberries.
- Fold dough sides up and over edge of filling, letting dough drape over itself at each fold. Brush dough with beaten egg, and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar.
- Bake 10 minutes; then lower oven temperature to 375° and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes more. Cool.
- Make the white chocolate ganache: Bring 1 cup heavy cream to a boil. Pour over the white chocolate pieces while stirring. Cool to room temperature, and place into a pastry bag with a small tip. Decorate the crostata with the white chocolate.