The pear is an underappreciated fruit, especially in baking. Pears are cheap, sweet and abundant in the late fall and early winter. These desserts would be perfect for a party—they are handheld but more substantial than a cookie. The crust is slightly sweet and fortified with almond paste, which is a little pricey but completely worth it.
The crust is brought together similarly to pie crust, then set to chill. A cream cheese and brown sugar mixture is then plopped on top and then a quarter pear. 20 minutes in the oven, and you have a very special Christmas dessert.
Pear, Cheese and Almond Mini Galettes
For the crust
2 cups all purpose flour
4 oz chilled almond paste (not almond meal)
1 stick very cold butter cut into cubes
3 tbsp sugar
¼ cup plus a few tbsp ice water as needed
Cream cheese mixture
8 oz cream cheese
¼ cup brown sugar
zest of one lemon
½ tsp almond extract
5 small pears or 4 medium pears, peeled, cored. The pears should be slightly under-ripe but still juicy.
juice of ½ lemon
2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp flour
In a mixing bowl combine butter, flour, almond paste, salt and sugar with a pastry cutter until well blended and the butter is in small pea-sized pieces. Carefully with your fingers, blend the mixture together until it begins to combine. Add the ice water 1 tbsp at a time and combine by hand until the mixture comes together easily in your hands. Without working the dough too much, bring the dough into a ball and divide in two and cover in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Soften the cream cheese and whisk in the brown sugar, lemon zest and almond extract. Put aside.
Peel and core the pears. Cut lengthwise and then then again widthwise into quarters. If you have larger pears, then slice lengthwise and divide the width into thirds. You want pear sizes that can fit into each small galette. Put the sugar, flour, pears and lemon juice in a bowl.
Preheat the oven to 350. Take the dough out of the freezer. On a heavily floured surface, roll out the dough to 1/8 inch thick. I didn’t have a 4” diameter cutter so I used a large wine glass. Use whatever you have—a small bowl, or just cut them with a knife. They are free-form so they don’t have to be perfect. After you have cut out your crust, place ½ tbsp of the cheese mixture and then a pear slice on top. Crimp the edges to fold around the pear. Sprinkle a heavy dose of finishing sugar (plain sugar will work just fine) and place on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Bake for 20 minutes or until the bottoms are slightly brown and the crust has set. Allow to cool and enjoy!