Ah, dessert. Whether it’s icy cold outside, you’ve had a rough day, you’re feeling under the weather or you’re incredibly sleep-deprived, sometimes all you need is a little something sweet to make all seem right in the world. The older I get (yes, it’s all relative, I know), the more I’ve come to appreciate the truly sweet, dessert-like moments in the day. A beautiful dessert is like peeking into the Bean’s crib in the middle of the night, only to see that perfect little face, with her wide gummy smile staring back at me. Delicious. Unassuming. Completely irresistible. It’s true that the best things in life are sweet.
Of course, no actual dessert can ever compare to those 2 a.m. smiles from Beany, but let’s pretend, for just a moment, that this one comes close. Like all the most satisfying desserts in life’s cookbook, this recipe is filled with the essentials. In this case, that means butter, sugar and a heaping of fresh fruit. Paired with a flaky, almost-foolproof pie crust, and it’s the perfect combination of soft and crisp, sweet and gratifying — just simple ingredients that make up a deliciously beautiful package.
From Martha Stewart
• ½ batch basic pie crust (recipe below)
• 1 tablespoon cornstarch
• ¼ cup granulated sugar
• ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
• 4 large, ripe pears, cut into ½ inch pieces
• 1 tablespoon unsalted butter cut into small pieces
• 1 egg
• 1 to 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
• 3 tablespoons apricot jam
Roll out dough to a 14-inch round, about 1/4-inch thick, on a floured work surface. Place dough on parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until ready to use, up to 1 hour.
In a large bowl, mix together cornstarch, sugar and salt. Add pears to the bowl, and toss together until pears are evenly coated with the cornstarch/sugar mixture.
Mound pear mixture on top of the center of the dough (leave about a 4-inch border all the way around). Fold dough over pear mixture; overlap edges where necessary and press together gently so the folds stick together. Chill assembled galette in the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes.
While the galette chills, preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a small bowl, beat egg. Brush edges of dough with the egg wash, and sprinkle turbinado sugar on the edges. Dot top of galette with butter, and bake the galette for 1 hour, until crust is golden brown and juices are bubbling. (Note: Check the galette about halfway through the cooking time to make sure the crust isn’t browning too quickly. Cover edges with foil if necessary to keep the crust from burning.)
Shortly before the galette finishes baking, place apricot jam in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook until heated through, then strain it through a mesh sieve set over a bowl. Once galette is out of the oven, brush heated jam over the pears. Serve galette warm or at room temperature.
Basic pie crust
• 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
• 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
• ¼ to ½ cup ice water
Place flour, salt and sugar in the large bowl of a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Add cold butter, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs (a few pea-sized chunks of butter will remain).
Add ¼ cup ice water (not the ice!) and pulse a few times. Dough should be crumbly but hold together when pinched between your fingers. If it’s still too crumbly, add more water, one tablespoon at a time.
Place half of the crumbly dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, and form dough into a disk that’s about ¾ inch thick. Wrap tightly, and refrigerate until firm (at least one hour, up to three days). Repeat with remaining dough (dough can also be frozen for up to three months).
What dessert moments do you look forward to each day? Any favorite recipes that up the sweet factor? I’d love to hear it!