Pear and gianduja tarts

Pear and gianduja tarts

Pear and gianduja tarts

Snow Day! They cancelled school before it even started snowing today, but by the time the boys were out of bed the snow fell thick and fast, and it’s still coming down. We trudged around our pretty town in the slush, the boys sledded a few times, Clio ran like a crazed reindeer in a snow-covered field, and now it’s pjs and legos and hot tea. Yeah. Last night we watched Searching for Sugarman, and, oddly, it featured more than a few shots of Rodriguez trudging around Detroit in thick snow. Just shots of him walking in the snow, and they were oddly moving. The whole film was surprisingly moving, as a matter of fact. It wasn’t really the story that got to me, although it’s a remarkable story, and although the music was intriguing, I didn’t feel like I knew all that much more about it for watching the film. It was the character of Rodriguez himself, as articulated by all the people around him. And not by the music critics and record producers, but by the Ordinary people in his life–his three wise and eloquent daughters and the bricklayers and construction workers he sees from day to day. We don’t actually hear him talk too much himself, which somehow suits the mysterious character we’ve been told about, who was so shy he performed facing the back of the stage. But his daughters and co-workers present the picture of a man who is content, not in a comfortable lazy way, but in a satisfied way, in the way of somebody who finds a lot to be happy about in small things, who is happy with what he has achieved, who is constantly curious and questioning, but not dissatisfied with what he has. Somebody who has his own definition of success, which extends from recording music to the hard labor he does to support himself in Detroit–demolishing and cleaning out houses. I’ll let Rick Emerson, a construction worker and friend of Rodriguez’s, tell you all about it, “He had this kind of magical quality that all the genuine poets and artists have: to elevate things. To get above the mundane, the prosaic. All the bullshit. All the mediocrity that’s everywhere. The artist, the artist is the pioneer….What he’s demonstrated, very clearly, is that you have a choice. He took all that torment, all that agony, all that confusion and pain, and he transformed it into something beautiful. He’s like the silkworm, you know? You take this raw material, and you transform it. You come out with something that wasn’t there before. Something beautiful. Something perhaps transcendent. Something perhaps eternal. Insofar as he does that, I think he’s representative of the human spirit, of what’s possible. That you have a choice ‘And this has been my choice, to give you Sugar Man.’ Now, have you done that? Ask yourself.” It’s almost as though he’s been reading Rolands Barthes, “β€œThe film spectator might adopt the silk worm’s motto: inclusum labor illustrat: because I am shut in I work, and shine with all the intensity of my desire.” Because he’s shut out of a lifetime of fame and fortune, because he’s shut into the cold troubled city of Detroit, because he’s shut into his own creativity, he shines, and makes everybody around him shine with him.

Pear and gianduja tart

Pear and gianduja tart

I bought some pastry rings at the flea market, and I confess I didn’t know what they were for. A small amount of research suggested that you place them on a baking sheet and line them as you would a tart pan. So that’s what I did. I made the crust out of a sort of shortbread dough. I had some crumbled hazelnuts and chocolate chips from another recipe I’ll tell you about soon, and I decided to combine them with a bit of egg and milk and process them until smooth, and then top all of that with slices of pear. Yum. I made two smallish tarts (I think they’re 12 centimeters across) but you could easily make this in a ten-inch tart pan. You might want a bit more pear, that’s up to you!

Here’s I Wonder by Rodriguez from Searching for Sugarman.

4 T cold butter, cut in pieces
1 cup flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
dash salt

3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts
3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 T butter
1 egg
1 t vanilla
1/4 cup milk

1/2 ripe bosc pear, cored and thinly sliced

Preheat the oven to 350. In a food processor combine the butter and powdered sugar. Process to blend, then add the flour and salt. Process until everything is smooth. You should have a thick, sticky dough.

Lightly butter a baking sheet and a ten inch ring, two five inch tart rings, or a tart pan of equivalent size. Press the dough into the rings and up the sides to form a crust. You want it to be about 1/4 inch thick all the way around. Lightly flour your hands if that helps.

Don’t bother cleaning the food processor, but add the chocolate chips, hazelnuts, egg, milk and vanilla, and process until smooth. It doesn’t need to be completely smooth–it could be flecked with bits of nut or chocolate. Pour this mixture into the lined tart shells. Arrange the pear slices on top in a pretty pattern.

Bake 30 – 35 minutes until the pastry is golden and the gianduja is puffed and firm. Let cool, slice, and eat!

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