Pears and pistachios. Super combo. So I thought I'd share a recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Sweet Seasons, by Richard Leach. It's a brilliant cookbook with fabulous photography and composed desserts. When I make something from this book, I concentrate on three or four elements of his desserts and call it a successful day if I can make it look even half way as luscious as the book does. My most recent attempt is the the Pear and Pistachio Torte.
I really screwed up the genoise! Well, no, perhaps it wasn't me, but the recipe doesn't read correctly in the cookbook. It calls for dividing the genoise into two cake pans but then gives directions for slicing only one in three 1/4 inch pieces. I took one look at it, measured and decided it was impossible to do, so I ended up dividing each one in half and making four layers instead of three. Perhaps my genoise didn't rise enough? Never mind, it tasted divine, made a lovely presentation and if you love pears and pistachios, you'll adore this cake.
Pear and Pistachio Torte with Roasted Pear Purée
From Sweet Seasons by Richard Leach
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup cake flour
3 tablespoons sifted cornstarch
1/2 cup pistachio flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Roasted Pear and Mascarpone filling:
1/2 cup roasted pear puree (recipe follows)
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Roasted Pear Purée
5 bartlett pears
2 tablespoons clarified butter
1/2 cup honey
4 tablespoons Pear Williams liqueur
Preheat oven to 325. Generously butter two cake 8 inch round cake pans. Combine eggs and sugar in a mixing bowl and whisk over hot water until slightly warm. With an electric mixer, beat until fluffy and pale yellow, 8-10 minutes.
Gently fold in the dry ingredients and then the butter. Pour into the cake pans and bake 30 minutes or until golden and firm to then touch. Cool slightly in the pans, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate overnight. Easier to slice a cold cake.
Combine all ingredients, whisk until smooth and refrigerate until ready to use.
To make the Pear Purée:
Preheat oven to 450. Peel, core and quarter the pears. Heat a heavy roasting pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Carefully add butter and pears. Roast for about 10 minutes until nicely browned. Add the honey and roast the pears until they begin to caramelize, about 5 minutes. Remove and deglaze the pan with the liqueur. Cool and purée in a food processor. Set aside.
Assemble the cake:
Slice the genoise horizontally into three 1/4 inch slices. (Huh? I divided each cake in half, horizontally.) Place one on the bottom, pipe in the mascarpone filling and continue until you have 3 (4) slices of genoise and two (three) layers of filling. Refrigerate 4 hours.
Cut the cake into 8 equal pieces, slice the rounded end of each so it will sit straight and serve in a pool of pear purée. (It looked to me as though Chef Leach made a crème anglaise as well, so I did too and poured it over the pear puree.) Scatter some grapes on the plate.