Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Passover Hazelnut Pear Tort

This dessert grew out of the recipe for Pear Flower Almond Tortes. It was easier to make for a crowd and is so beautiful, that I just had to include it. Pecans are also great in this torte.

Pareve or Dairy
SERVES 6 – 8



Wine Poached Pears
Passover grape or blackberry wine
 pears, barely ripe (Bosc or Bartlett)

Hazelnut Sponge Cake
skinned hazelnuts, divided
matzo cake meal
large eggs, room temperature, separated

Topping and Garnish
1 jar seedless raspberry jam
Passover Richwhip®, thawed and whipped or Whipped Cream, see below

For wine poached pears:
1. Combine the sugar, wine and 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 4 small lemons) in a 6-quart stainless steel or other non-corrosive pot. Heat over medium heat until the sugar dissolves.

2. Meanwhile, squeeze the last lemon into a large bowl of water and drop the lemon rind into the water. Peel the pears one at a time and place them into the bowl. When all of the pears are peeled, use a slotted spoon to slide the pears into the hot liquid. Place over high heat until the liquid starts to boil.

3. Reduce the heat to low so that the wine is just barely simmering. Cover and cook the pears 5 - 45 minutes, until a sharp knife tip can be easily inserted into the pears. The amount of time will vary with the type of pear and the ripeness.

4. When the pears are done, transfer them to a storage container and immediately pour the syrup over the fruit. If any of the pears are floating, ball up some aluminum foil and press into the syrup so that the pears are completely submerged in the liquid. Cool, cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days (best in 2).

For the sponge cake:
1. PREHEAT OVEN TO 350 degrees F. with a shelf in the middle of the oven. Grease a 9-inch round springform pan.

2. Toast the hazelnuts in the oven for 5 - 10 minutes or until aromatic. Put the nuts in the freezer for 5 minutes to cool them. Reserve 1/2 cup nuts for garnish.

3. Place 2-1/2 cup nuts, matzo cake meal and cinnamon in a processor bowl and process until finely ground.

4. Place the egg yolks in a large mixer bowl and beat with an electric mixer at medium speed just to blend the eggs together. Gradually add 1 cup of the sugar and continue beating until the eggs are thick, pale yellow and the mixture will hold a ribbon (explanation page 12). Fold in the nut-mixture in three additions.

5. In a large, clean, and greasefree bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy throughout. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar and continue beating until the whites are stiff but not dry .

6. Stir 1/3 of the whites into the yolks to lighten the batter. Fold in the remaining whites until no white streaks show. BAKE 30 - 40 MINUTES or until a tester inserted in the middle of the cake comes out dry. Set the cake on a wire rack to cool.

To assemble:
Spread a thin layer of raspberry jam onto the top of the cake, adding a little water or wine to the jam, if it is not thin enough to spread. Spread a thin layer of the Richwhip® over the entire torte. Chop the reserved hazelnuts and press them to the sides of the torte. Halve the pears and remove the cores. Cut the pears tip-to-stem into thin slices (1/8-inch or less, to taste) and arrange them decoratively on the torte. For instructions on making the design on the above photo, see Decorating with Fruit, page 206. Thin some jam (if you haven’t already) with water or wine – about 1 tablespoon per half cup of jam. Brush this over the pears to keep them moist and shiny.

The poached pears can be made 3-5 days in advance.
The sponge cake can be made 1 day ahead or frozen for 3 months ahead.
The finished torte can be made 6 hours in advance.

Skinned hazelnuts, kosher for Passover, can be bought through To skin them yourself, place the hazelnuts on a pan in a 350o oven and roast for 10 minutes. Pour the nuts onto the upper half of a kitchen towel. Fold the bottom half of the towel up over the nuts and rub back and forth. The skins should come off. If there are a lot of nuts with skins that won't release, place the nuts back in the oven and roast for another 5 minutes. It is okay if the nuts brown lightly. Repeat. Nuts that refuse to shed their skins can be boiled for 5 minutes and then the skins can be peeled off.


Angela M. said...

Beautiful. Those wine-poached pears look amazing. The pears look a little like plums.

Leela said...

Shabbat shalom, Penny. This looks amazing. I love anything made with hazelnut and to have that paired with poached pear ... Will have to try this.

Penny Wantuck Eisenberg said...

Thanks! And it will taste as good as it looks.

Lori Lynn said...

Oh my gosh it's beautiful.

Penny Wantuck Eisenberg said...

Lori - It would be a killer ending for your feast!!