When I began this blog I stated that a certain theme would appear frequently in the posts: Appearance and Reality.
This is one such post. I was invited to dinner and K & D's house on Friday for some homemade miso soup and sushi. Admittedly, I was a bit dubious of homemade sushi in a land-locked state like Indiana. It turns out that I had nothing to worry about. Both the soup and sushi were wonderful! K & D had prepared a wide array of items to include in the rolls and we each got to design a few ourselves. I had two particular favorites: 1) a seaweed-less roll filled with eel, cucumber, tempura-ed green onion, and avocado, and 2) a seaweed wrapped smoked salmon and cream cheese roll. I was definitely a fan and there was a general consensus that we should do something similar again soon.
I was charged with bringing dessert. It was a lucky assignment since I had the perfect dish to make using the hazelnuts I had purchased at the end of fall: Pear and Hazelnut Frangipane Tart. This is one of those dishes that looks like a million bucks. It appears as though the baker has superhuman skills in the kitchen when in reality the ingredients do all the work.
Pear and Hazelnut Frangipane Tart
3 firm bosc pears (selected for shape)
1 c. toasted hazelnuts
6 T. butter
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c flour
1 t. vanilla extract*
1/2 t. almond extract
3 T. apricot preserves
1 tart shell
special items: 11 inch tart pan
Preheat oven to 350.
Bake the tart shell according to directions. Set aside to cool.
In a food processor pulse hazelnuts with 1/4 cup sugar until coarsely ground. Add 1/4 cup flour and pulse until mixture is finely ground.
In an electric mixer beat butter and remaining sugar until light and fluffy. Add one egg at a time, combining well. Add extracts. When egg mixture is smooth, add the ground nuts until just combined. Pour the mixture into the tart shell and spread evenly.
Peel, halve, and core the pears. Slice the pears into 1/4 inch slices and arrange decoratively atop the hazelnut mixture and place in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until pears and frangipane are browned.
When you remove the tart from the oven, coat the pear with melted apricot preserves. Remove the tart from the pan and appear as though you are master in the kitchen!
*This was the first time I used my homemade vanilla extract. I have to say the vanilla flavor is wonderful!