When cooked in a dessert, pears can sometimes end up too sweet and disappointing. Combining fruit and cheese means the pears don’t become too cloying and the other ingredients create a balance. Physalis is a wonderful, yet undervalued fruit that seems to be used only as a decoration which is a shame. It’s related to the tomato, so its acidity balances the pear and cheese wonderfully.
INGREDIENTS serves 6
200g Cream cheese
2 medium eggs
1tbsp caster sugar
375g puff pastry sheet*
3-4 large ripe William pears
100g physalis washed and cut in half
1tbsp clear honey
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 level tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
10Og raspberries (optional)
1 egg, beaten
- Line a nonstick baking tray (perforated if possible) with baking parchment.
- Unroll the puff pastry sheet keeping in its parchment paper it came in and dust it lightly with plain flour. Use a sharp knife and trim the pastry into a rectangle 39cm x 25cm and keep any trimmings.
- If you were unable to buy a sheet of ready rolled puff pastry and you have a 500g block allow to thaw. Cut approximately 100grams off and then roll the remaining pastry into 39cm x 25cm rectangle on a flour dusted surface around no thicker than 5mm.
- Roll pastry on your rolling pin and transfer to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment.
- Brush the beaten egg around the edges of the rectangle, then fold in the long sides twice, each fold should be 2.5cm (1inch). Crimp down well after each fold. Now just raise the edges up at the two ends. Your pastry case should now have a 15cm x 36cm space to put your filling. Use a small fork to prick the pastry (the space you intend to fill).
- Brush the pastry case with beaten egg, then refrigerate.
- Beat the cream cheese and sugar until well mixed in a large bowl. Now add one egg at a time and whisk until both eggs are absorbed into the cheese.
- In a separate small bowl combine the cornflour, lime juice, zest. and slowly whisk this into the cheese mixture and refrigerate.
- Preheat oven to 190 C/375F/gas mark 5 (fan assisted).
- Spread the cheese mix on to the pastry base inside the border.
- Leave the skin on and quarter the pears and remove all the seeds. Cut each quarter into 3-4 slices and arrange neatly by overlapping the slices on top of the cheese.
- Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 35 minutes or until golden brown.
- Remove the oven and scatter on the cut physalis, brush the fruit carefully with honey and cook for a further 5 minutes on the lowest shelf to make sure the pastry is cooked.
- If you don’t have a perforated baking tray then place the tart on an ovenproof wire rack when you add the honey and physalis and cook for the further 5 minutes to ensure the pastry bottom is cooked.
- Crimping and sealing the edges well is very important to prevent the sides from falling over. If you are concerned you can use a rectangular terrine dish to brace the pastry case against one side of the baking tray.
- Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serve with a few raspberries to dress the plate. The fresh raspberries add colour to the dish, plus a little more acidity but if you wish, you can leave them out.
© Kevin Ashton 2007-2018