I have been in Seattle for the last week or so visiting family, brushing up on my "duck, duck, goose" skills and reconnecting with some friends I haven't seen in ages. Seattle is totally living up to it's reputation and it has been 40º and raining for pretty much my entire visit...but it has been such a good excuse to eat lots of soup, cozy up by the fire and go to sleep early every night. It also has been a wonderful and restful way to ease into the holiday season which feels busier and more hectic every year.
Last year around this time I was deep into writing my book, and didn't have a ton of free time for holiday baking fun and homemade gifts, but I have big plans this year! I might even need to buy myself a new glue gun, watch out Martha Stewart.
First up in my holiday baking spree is this super delicious cheesecake-inspired tart. Cheesecake can be heavy and cloyingly sweet, but in this tart the combination of creamy mascarpone, toasty hazelnuts and sweet-tart pears and pomegranates are a lovely and balanced combination.
What's on your holiday baking list this year? I am always looking for new ideas!
Hazelnut Cheesecake Tart with Pears and Pomegranate
makes one 10-inch tart
Creamy mascarpone, toasted hazelnuts and sweet-tart pears and pomegranates are a wonderful combination of textures and flavors in this festive holiday tart. This tart can be made in advance, but the crust will soften in the refrigerator as it sits.
2/3 cup hazelnuts
1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 large egg yolk
1-2 tablespoons cold water, as needed
8 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
8 ounces mascarpone, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 pears, ripe but firm
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds
In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade, grind the hazelnuts and confectioner’s sugar until they resemble flour. Add the flour and salt and pulse to combine. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add the egg yolk and one tablespoon of water. Pulse until the mixture begins to hold together, add a bit more water if necessary. The dough should hold together easily when squeezed. Pour the mixture out onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a ball. Wrap the ball with the plastic wrap and press into a disc. Chill for 1 hour.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 12-inch circle. Fit the dough into lightly buttered 10-inch tart pan and dock the bottom and sides with a fork. Freeze the shell for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line the tart shell with a lightly greased sheet of foil. Bake for 15 minutes, or until light golden brown on the edges. Remove the foil and let the shell cool slightly. Turn the oven down to 350ºF.
With an electric mixer whip the cream cheese and mascarpone together until light and fluffy. Whip in the sugar followed by the eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and salt. Beat on medium-high speed until light, fluffy, and smooth.
Pour the filling into the tart shell and bake until puffed and set, but still slightly wiggly in the center, 20-25 minutes. Let the tart cool to room temperature then refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to overnight before serving.
Roast the pears: Preheat oven to 375ºF. Peel core and slice the pears into 1/4-inch slices. Toss the pears, sugar, and lemon juice together on a baking sheet and roast until soft and slightly caramelized, 25-30 minutes.
Let the pears cool to room temperature then top the chilled tart with the roasted pears and pomegranate seeds.