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Monday, March 14, 2016

Pear Pie with Streusel and Caramel Sauce for One

My neighbor gave me some pears. Now, pears are very good on their own, and they’re pretty good if you poach them in wine with a couple of cloves and some cinnamon. But if you really want to indulge in the truly sensuous nature of a pear, you need to make this pie. Right now. Just stop what you’re doing and make it!
For the Crust:
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
2 TBLSP shortening or vegan butter
1 ½ TBLSP ice water (or half vodka)
For the Pears:
1 ½ TBLSP all-purpose flour, divided
1 TBLSP granulated sugar
Sprinkle of ground cinnamon
Sprinkle of ground ginger
Sprinkle of salt
¾ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 to 1 1/2  medium-firm pears, peeled, cored, and cut lengthwise into ½-inch wedges (or just chop it up. It’s up to you.) (about 1 cup of chopped fruit)

¾ TBLSP brown sugar
¾ teaspoon chilled butter, cut into pieces
For the Sauce:
¾ teaspoon brown sugar
1 TBLSP non-dairy creamer (use regular milk if you don’t have the thick stuff, and add a sprinkle of cornstarch or arrowroot to thicken it a bit)
1 teaspoon vegan butter, softened
Tiny splash of water

Make the Crust:
  1. In a small bowl, combine flour and salt.
  2. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Then add the water/vodka and mix until it holds together in a very soft dough. (Vodka is a pie-maker’s trick. If you use it the crust will be a little lighter. In such small quantities, though, you may not notice the difference. The alcohol burns off, so you don’t taste it, but, like the water, it evaporates and leaves little fluffy openings in the dough.)
  3. Form the dough into a ball. Be careful not to overwork the dough. Just squish it together until it holds.
  4. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a 7- or 8-inch circle or square.
  5. Put the dough, still flat, in the refrigerator for an hour or two (overnight is fine). I use the same waxed paper that I roll it on (speeds clean-up), slide it onto a plate, and cover with another sheet of waxed paper. You might prefer plastic wrap if you have a lot of stinky things in your fridge.

Macerate the Pears:
  1. Combine ¾ TBLSP flour, sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a small bowl. Add the lemon juice and pears and toss gently, to coat.

Make the Streusel:
  1. Combine the remaining 1 ½ TBLSP of flour and the brown sugar in a small bowl. Add the chilled butter and cut with a pastry blender or a fork until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

Assemble the Pie:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Use cooking spray or vegan butter to grease a 5-inch diameter pie pan.
  1. Place the rested dough in your pie pan, roll the edges under (which may require trimming to make it tidy), and flute the edges.
  2. Arrange the pear mixture in an even layer on top of the crust.
  3. Sprinkle the streusel over the pears.
  4. Bake for 50 minutes to an hour, or until lightly browned and the filling is bubbly.
  5. Let cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

Prepare the Sauce:
  1. Combine the brown sugar, cream (or milk and arrowroot), and the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring it to a boil, and let it boil for 1 minute, until thickened.
  2. Remove from heat and stir in the splash of water.
  3. Drizzle the sauce over individual slices of pie, or just douse the whole thing in it. Yummmmmmm.

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