March 9, 2012

Pear and Apple Phyllo Tarts

My brain has been in tart-mode these past few weeks, and in an effort to free up some space in the freezer, I decided to kill two birds with one stone and defrost some phyllo dough to make some tarts.  I kept things light with a few layers of phyllo and thin daubs of vanilla custard--a little goes a long way.  The one above contains slices of pear.

This one has apples.  I like this a lot more.  I was so surprised at how great they tasted, though I shouldn't be with the amount of butter that went into them.  The phyllo was perfectly flaky and buttery, and the fruit practically melts in your mouth.  The custard is the glue that holds everything together.

The following recipe makes 1 rectangular apple tart and 4 small pear tartlets, though it can easily make 2 rectangular tarts instead.  It's definitely easier to make than the tartlets.  Phyllo dough doesn't behave very well.

Pear and Apple Phyllo Tarts
makes 1 rectangular apple tart and 4 small pear tartlets

10 sheets phyllo dough
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 pear, cored and thinly sliced
vanilla custard, recipe below
sugar for dusting, optional
small cubes of butter, optional

Preheat oven to 350ºF.

Cover baking sheet with a layer of parchment paper.  Working quickly, remove a sheet of phyllo dough from package and place it on the parchment.  Cover the rest with a damp cloth to prevent them from drying out.  Brush phyllo sheet with melted butter and cover with another layer of phyllo.  Brush with butter and repeat with four more layers of phyllo.

Spread half of the vanilla custard onto the phyllo, leaving a one inch border around the edge.  Arrange apple slices on top of custard in two rows, then fold the edges of the pastry onto the apples.  Brush edges of phyllo with butter.  Sprinkle apple with sugar and dot with 3-4 small cubes of butter.

On another sheet of parchment paper, layer two sheets of phyllo on top of each other, each brushed with melted butter.  Flip over and brush with butter, then carefully cut into four equal rectangles.  Layer one rectangle on a mini pie tin, then layer another rectangle on top of it so it almost forms a cross.  Attempt to arrange the edges into some kind of order.  Fill the bottom with vanilla custard, then arrange pear slices on top.  Repeat with the remaining phyllo.  Sprinkle with sugar and a small cube of butter each.

Bake in oven about 15 minutes, or until pastry is lightly browned.  Cool slightly and enjoy!  If you somehow have the self-control to not eat everything at once, pop pastries into the oven for a few minutes to re-crisp the phyllo.

Vanilla Custard
from delicious days

1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup cream
1 vanilla pod, split in half and seeds scraped out
1/8 cup sugar
pinch salt
1/2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 egg yolks

In a small saucepan, bring the milk, cream, and vanilla pod/seeds to a boil and then simmer for a few minutes. Remove the vanilla pod.

Combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks in a medium bowl and beat till combined. Continue beating very, very slowly while gradually pouring in the hot cream mixture. Return this mixture to the stove and carefully reheat while stirring continuously. Avoid boiling. Remove from heat when the mixture has thickened.

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