Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Red Wine-Poached Pear and Custard Tart (Page 781)

  • Date: Saturday, January 26, 2008 -- 9pm
  • Location: Bloomington, IN
  • Kitchen: My Apartment
  • Dining Companions: Matty, Chuck, Lynn, Cornelia, Paul K, Beth, and Lauren K
  • Recipe Rating: B

This recipe was on the list generated by the random number generator. It's a bit difficult to grade. On the one hand, it came out beautiful and delicious. Easily an A- tasting recipe. On the other hand, it took some serious MacGyver-esque kitchen rescuing to get it to that point. So what happened? Well, tart crusts are thin, and when they are blind-baked they often get little cracks in them. This is not problem if you then fill it with fruit, or pastry cream, or basically anything that isn't completely liquidy. But, if you fill it will an uncooked custard, the liquid seeps out the cracks in the bottom of the crust. Then, it leaks out the bottom of the tart pan (because they have removable bottoms, and hence cracks in the bottom) and if you are really unlucky it fills up the sides of the tart pan, so the sides of your crust are surrounded by liquid and never get crispy. So I had tiny cracks and as I poured in the filling I saw this coming. But I threw it in the oven as fast as I could (as soon as the filling starts to set it stops leaking), but it didn't set fast enough. So there the filling was, dripping out of the tart and out of the pan onto the baking sheet I had place under it for just this purpose. I sat in front of the oven with the oven light off, watching the custard level drop lower and lower. Eventually it was just too low. Matty and I threw together a whole new custard filling in 45 seconds flat (picture it: me running around the kitchen yelling "Eggs! I need eggs!"), and I opened up the oven and poured it slowly on top of the other custard. Granted, this seemed like a bad, bad idea. Adding raw custard to half-baked custard seemed destined to cause a textural disaster. But what could I do? The other option was to have no filling. Luckily, the custards blended and set in such a way that this questionable save was undetectable. But it was stressful. Tart fillings with extremely liquidy crusts have this problem so frequently it seems a shame to keep writing recipes this way. That said, the final product was good. The outside crust was soggy, which was gross, but the flavors of the custard and the pears were excellent. The red wine syrup that accompanied the tart was also delicious. The recipe is good, but if you make it, make sure that you don't have any cracks in your crust after blind-baking, and if you do, make a new crust!

This recipe isn't online.

Tonight I am taking a deep breath and getting ready for a few crazy weeks ahead of me. After weeks and weeks of not traveling, the traveling is about to begin. Tomorrow after I teach my class I am driving to Chicago for a couple days to do some work with Vigleik. Next Thursday I am off to Boston for about 5 days. I come back to Bloomington for 3 days and then I am off to California for almost a week. Then I am back for a week and then off to Boston again for 11 days (spring break!). Basically, things are about to get crazy...

I am looking forward to my trips though -- especially California! I haven't been back to Stanford in more than a year and half, which is crazy for me. Usually I go there at least twice a year! It will be a busy trip -- one of my post-doc supervisors is on leave at Stanford this term, so I will be doing work with him while I am there. I am also co-hosting (with my dear friend Rachel) a baby shower for another dear friend, Emilee. And it will be Chris' birthday while I am there, so I am going to celebrate with him. Crazy, crazy... But that's a few weeks away still (which is good because we have a few baby shower details to still work out!).

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