1 vanilla bean
4 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp pear brandy (a nice, cheapish brand is Mathilde)
1/3 cup light or dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
juice of one lemon
zest of one lemon
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
|Your pie will end up looking like this, after hungry guests have gobbled most of it.|
Whisk together the dry ingredients, then dredge the butter cubes in the flour and crumble with your fingers until small, pebble-sized bits are uniformly distributed. Add vinegar and then ice water 1/4 cup at a time. Combine with the dough using either a rubber spatula (for weaklings) or your hands (for true chefs, who don't mind scraping clumps of batter off their digits).
When the dough is just able to form a ball, divide it into two pieces, one slightly bigger than the other. Place each on a sheet of plastic wrap (for your own sake, lay out the plastic wrap BEFORE making the dough, or else risk touching everything in your kitchen with buttery flour-encrusted hands). Flatten each dough piece into a flat, rectangular shape. Wrap with plastic and place in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Filling and Assembly
|You're nearly done!|
- This recipe has heaps of butter. I tried omitting some the second time I made it, but the results were not as sensual and the filling not as velvety.
- For me, the more lemon, the better. I'd be inclined to tempt fate next time by zesting two lemons into the pears rather than one.
- Along those lines, I'd be tempted to see what two vanilla beans would do to this recipe. I adore the black specks created by the bean, but find the flavor to be milder than I would like.
- The first time I made this, the pie crust was as crunchy as a cracker. The second time, it was nearly perfect. I can't explain why this was, but I've found again and again that pie crust has its own mind. In the second case, the vinegar appeared to have helped. I added it out of fear that I had overworked the dough, and the crust baked up nicely.
- I would go for a tart green pear rather than a soft and sweet bosc. You need all the tartness you can get to counter the mellowing effects of the brandy and the heat.