The Little Tart That Went Danish

This year, I am intrigued by the idea of delighting in truly good food.  I can be a very haphazard cook, as I can be haphazard in almost everything I do.  My daughter Maurya was sweet and told me that she loved that her mother is so spontaneous.  Well, whether it is spontaneity or haphazardness, my family (and guest/victims we lure to our home to feed) eat at their own risk.  Sometimes, the fare is sublime, conversation flows, the world is good.  Sometimes not.  So I’ve made a goal of focusing, of planning, of actually following recipes.  Of educating myself.  Of making at least some of our daily meals delectable, beautiful Events (in terms of hospitality and warmth and enjoyment).  I can’t wait to start my garden and my little orchard, to facilitate these grand schemes.  But back to the Danish.

I didn’t follow a recipe.  I’d tried the concept a week earlier, when I had extra homemade pizza dough and was thinking about the French, the decadence of excessive butter, and a pear tart recipe my aunt had shared.  All in the same breath.  My week-earlier attempt had come out tasty, but not quite sweet enough, and a little soggy.  So I adapted.  I rolled out the dough (Italian bread dough with a little more sugar than usual), slathered it with butter, folded it over, rolled it, slathered more butter, folded and rolled it, and etc.  (I understand this is part of the process in making croissants).  I pressed the resultant butter-burdened dough into a two pie plates (because I had enough dough to do that).   Peeled and sliced (in thin wedges) a couple of pears, soaked them in fresh lemon juice (two lemons squeezed beyond recognition), added a lot of sugar and a little bit of flour (remembering the past soggy danish) and a dash of nutmeg and half a dash of black pepper (remembering Frank’s Swedish cousin and how he liked using pepper sometimes in sweet dishes).  Arranged the slices on the uncooked “crust”, and poured the remaining sugar/lemon/flour mixture over the top.  Baked it almost immediately (before it could rise), but it still rose high in the oven.  I realized it couldn’t possibly be a tart, soaring to such mountainous heights.  But it was beautiful, the pear slices giving the bread a rich shingled texture, the pears a translucent butter color.  I made a thin frosting with cream cheese, cream, powdered sugar, vanilla, and lemon juice, drizzled it over the top of the cooled (and now somewhat more sedate) Danish.  Next time, I will make a glaze without powdered sugar; my sister has shared recipes where you cook cream and sugar together long enough to get a nice, thick consistency.

I should add that I really don’t have a strong opinion about including the pepper.  It doesn’t do anything for me other than make the whole dish seem a little warmer than one might expect of a treat boasting pears and lemons.  The nutmeg is very nice though.  I want to find some whole nutmeg to grate next time.  I also wonder how a little bit of fresh ginger would taste.

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