Friday, December 31, 2010

Pear-Pomegranate Pie #47

When you die, if you get the choice between going to regular heaven or pie heaven, choose pie heaven. It might be a trick, but if not, mmmmmmm, boy!
--Jack Handy

This all started with a New York Times article titled: Heaven in a pie pan. And since that’s the basic goal I had to try it.

The crust called for European butter, which resulted in a heavenly crust. I could absolutely tell the difference; the smell, the taste, the flakiness—it was wonderful. Maybe I’m just cheap, but I don’t know if every piecrust MUST be made with epensive butter, but when it counts, I would definitely recommend choosing the better butter.

The pomegranate molasses and the sautéed pears were easier to make than I thought they would be. I was really worried that my molasses would turn into to candy rather than a syrup, but it wasn’t hard. Also, I was worried about the extra liquid in the pie, but the tapioca flakes soaked up that potential threat and there were no problems.

One note of caution, with the delicateness of this piecrust, mixed with the warmth of the sautéed pears, you should consider freezing this pie for 20 or 30 minutes before putting it in the oven. My crust didn’t hold up on exactly on every section of the pie, but I think that freezing it for a few minutes would remedy that in the future.

This isn’t one of those sugary, candy-like pies, but the heaven that it sends you to is a little more sophisticated. Like the difference between regular heaven and pie heaven. Similar, but both wonderful for different reasons.

Pear-Pomegranate Pie
(from The New York Times)
4 Bosc pears (about 2 pounds), peeled and cored
4 Anjou pears (about 2 pounds), peeled and cored
6 tablespoons pomegranate molasses (see recipe at the end)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons tapioca
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, preferably a high-fat, European-style butter like Plugra, chilled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 to 5 tablespoons ice water

In a food processor, briefly pulse together the flour and salt. Add butter and pulse until mixture forms chickpea-size pieces (3 to 5 one-second pulses). Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until mixture is just moist enough to hold together.

Form dough into a ball, wrap with plastic and flatten into a disk. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before rolling out and baking.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Quarter 6 pears. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, bring 3 tablespoons molasses to a boil. Let simmer about 2 minutes, until molasses thickens. Arrange half the quartered pears in a single layer in skillet. Sprinkle 1 1/2 tablespoons butter over pears. Cook, turning occasionally, until pears are well caramelized on all sides (but not cooked through), about 5 minutes.

Scrape pears and molasses into a bowl. Add tapioca and toss to combine. Repeat cooking process with remaining molasses, butter and quartered pears. Add second batch of pears to bowl; combine.

Thinly slice remaining pears and add to bowl. Stir in sugar, ginger and salt. On a lightly floured surface, roll out both crusts to 12-inch circles. Place one crust in 9-inch pie plate. Scrape pear filling into crust.

Cut remaining dough into strips about 1 inch thick. Top pie with strips, weaving them into a lattice. Crimp edges to seal. Place pie on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until crust is dark golden and pears are tender when pricked with a fork, about 45 minutes more. Let cool for 30 minutes before slicing.

Pomegranate Molasses
4 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Place the pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a 4-quart saucepan set over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the mixture has reduced to 1 1/2 cups, approximately 50 minutes. It should be the consistency of syrup. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the saucepan for 30 minutes. Transfer to a glass jar and allow to cool completely before covering and storing in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.

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