Easy Pear Tart

“These pears are getting soft,” my daughter announced from the kitchen.

I sighed. I buy so many produce that goes bad because the child that requested it forgets about it. Indeed, I buy so much food that goes bad before anyone uses it. As it happened, at that very moment I had a two or three week old puff pastry sheet in my fridge. I’d bought a package to make mushroom empanadas for my vegan daughter and only used one sheet.

The softening pears I knew I could use – but the puff pastry? I searched online and found people asking if they could use it a few days to a week after putting it in the fridge – but two to three weeks? That seemed crazy! Still, my pastry sheets did not smell bad, they had no hint of mold in them (I do keep my fridge very cold), they were not slimy and they only had a couple of spots were they’d dried out and even then, not too much. So what the heck! I figured I’d use them.

I placed the puff pastry on a cutting board and rolled it a bit with a rolling pin. Then I transferred it to a lined cookie sheet. I sliced the pears somewhat thinly (I used the two large ones I had) and placed the pear slices on the puff pastry. I mixed some raw sugar with a bit of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger and sprinkled it on the pears. Then I ground some almonds and sprinkled these on top.

I put the baking sheet in the fridge and turn on the oven to 400F. Once it was preheated, I put the baking sheet in the oven and baked it for about 20 minutes.

The results were great. Really, really delicious. And vegan!


Vegan Chocolate Tart

This year, I made a beautiful chocolate tart for dessert for my Christmas Eve dinner – and that meant I had to make a vegan alternative for my vegan daughter. This recipe had great reviews, so I decided to make it for her. It took some doing, as the recipe called for Medjool dates and a specific brand/type of chocolate, which the recipe-maker insisted was just the best. Only after I’d searched for and found the chocolate (at Walgreen of all places) I realized that her post was actually sponsored by that chocolate brand. As it turned out, this chocolate was probably too dark for this cake. It would have probably worked best with 50-60% cocoa content chocolate. Just make sure you look at the ingredients to make sure it’s vegan.

Medjool dates are a particularly sweet type of dates that cannot be substituted by regular ones. Neither of my local supermarkets carried them but I was able to find them at Trader Joe’s (I think).

As other chocolate tart, this tart is beautiful when topped with fresh berries and mint leaves – which also provide a nice light tart contrast to the very rich chocolate.

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 8 pitted Medjool dates
  • 1 cup peeled almonds
  • 1 oz semisweet vegan chocolate, chopped and melted
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • pinch of salt

For the filling:

  • 3.5 oz semisweet vegan chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 8 pitted Medjool dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

Put the dates and almonds in a food processor and process until the mixture is very fine. Add the melted chocolate, melted coconut oil and salt and process until they are fully incorporated.

Press the mixture onto the bottom and sides of a tart pan. Place in the refrigerator and cool until the crust has set.

Meanwhile, make the filling.

In a small saucepan, melt together the chocolate and coconut oil. Mix in coconut cream. Transfer to a clean food processor bowl. Add dates and vanilla extract. Process until all ingredients are combined and have a smooth, pudding-like consistency.

Add the filling to the crust. Refrigerate until set, about 2 hours.

Top with berries, mint and whipped coconut cream, if desired.

Adapted from Regina’s recipe at Leelalicious


Banana Cream Pie and Coconut Cream Pie Recipe

I had a couple of pie shells that I had to use today so I decided to make pies – I had bananas and coconut, so banana and coconut cream pies were the obvious choices.  The recipe for the custard on the pie is the same, I just doubled it and used half over bananas and half mixed with coconut.  The pies were simply delicious.  I used the egg whites to make a meringue topping – just so I I could do something with them – but you can serve the pie with whipped cream instead.  Unfortunately I don’t have a broiler in my oven, so it didn’t come out as well as it could.  The pie itself was delicious, however.

  • 1 9″ pie shell
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 large bananas, sliced OR 1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • whipped cream

Topping

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 Tbsp sugar

Bake the pie shell according to instructions or your recipe. Let cool.

Preheat oven to 350F

Beat egg yolks in a small bowl and set aside.

Place sugar, flour and salt in a medium sauce pan and place on the stove over medium heat.  Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly.  Bring to a boil, lower the temperature and cook for two minutes.  Scoop a ladle of custard from the sauce pan and transfer to the bowl with the egg yolks. Mix well.  Pour egg yolk mixture back into the sauce pan, mix and cook for two more minutes.  Mix in the butter and vanilla extract, stirring until they are incorporated.

If making a banana cream pie, place the banana slices on the bottom of the pie shell, then pour custard over it.

If making a coconut pie, stir the coconut into the custard.

Pour the custard into the pie shell.  Bake for 12′.  Cool and then transfer to the refrigerator for an hour.

If making the meringue, using the whisk attachment in an electric mixer, beat together the egg whites and cream and tartar until it becomes foamy.  Gradually add the sugar and continue beating until it forms stiff peaks.  Spoon meringue onto the cooled pie and put under the broiler for 3-4 minutes.

Adapted from Rudy Pfeffer’s recipe at Allrecipes.com

Marga’s Favorite Recipes


Trader Joe’s Classic Lemon Bars

Lemon-BarsI got these to serve as the last course of my 13-course Xmas Eve dinner and they were perfect.  Indeed, these were very good lemon bars overall. They come frozen, and the curd is perhaps more cream-like and less sticky than that of a regular lemon bar, but it had the right degree of balance between sweetness and sourness, and they were the perfect size for an after dinner bite.  All in all very satisfying for anyone who likes lemon bars.


Peanut Butter Trifle – Recipe

One of my Facebook friends posts pictures of beautiful desserts from time to time, and some time ago I chanced upon one of peanut butter trifle.  I loved the idea and immediately decided that I would make it for Christmas.  It was  a great success.  I loved it!  Note that this is a pretty rich dessert, but not particularly sweet (or it doesn’t have to be, how much sugar you put is up to you).

For my trifle I used this recipe from the how sweet it is blog, but you can pretty much layer anything you want.

I served these trifle in 8-oz wine glasses, this recipe made 8 to 10

Ingredients for the Trifle

  • 1/2 batch brownies, cut in 1″ cubes
  • peanut butter cream (recipe below)
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped peanut butter cups
  • 3 cups chocolate pudding (you can use instant)
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped with 2 Tbsp. white sugar

Instructions

Place a layer of brownies at the bottom of the serving dish(es).  Then layer the peanut butter cream, peanut butter cups & chocolate pudding.  Top with whipped cream and brownie crumbs.

Refrigerate until serving.

Ingredients for the Peanut Butter Cream

  •  3/4 cup creamy unsalted natural peanut butter
  • 6 oz cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. milk
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream, whipped with 2 tsp. sugar

Instructions for the Peanut Butter Cream

Using an electric mixer, whip the peanut butter and cream cheese together until combined.  Add the sugar and mix until dissolved.  Add the milk and mix again.  Fold in the whipped cream into the mixture.

Marga’s 2012 Xmas Eve Dinner
Marga’s Best Recipes