Over at A Slice of Cherry Pie, Julia (along with a couple of others) has been running the ‘In the Bag’ challenge for a little while now.
This, though, is my first attempt, because I’ve only been aware of ITB since November and because I’ve only been food blogging since, er, earlier this month, actually. I’m a bit of a slow learner, you see.
Anyway, The Challenge... First dilemma – what to make? There are so many classic combinations involving pears and nuts that I found it (a) really difficult to decide what to do (I’m a Libran – what do you expect?), and (b) really difficult to come up with something even the slightest bit different from the norm. No, nobody was asking me to be particularly inventive – but, hey, where’s the challenge otherwise?
But I got there. Yes indeedy. Not entirely original, as you’ll see, but at least I got there. And it worked. And it was edible. In fact it was so edible that I’ll be making some more again very soon so as to avoid a domestic mutiny. So, here you have it – one challenge recipe, in the bag.
Pear and Hazelnut Brioche Toasts (serves 2) (an adaptation of this recipe)
4 slices brioche
½ cup icing sugar
2 tbsps softened unsalted butter
¾ cup hazelnuts, roasted and skinned
½ tsp vanilla extract (NOT essence!)
1 chilled large egg
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice, or to taste
1. Take 4 slices of brioche, and toast each slice gently on each side, until just starting to brown – but no more. Set aside.
2. Put the oven on to warm, to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
3. Finely grind about three quarters of the hazelnuts (pretty much to a paste), and roughly grind the remaining nuts for decoration.
3. Beat icing sugar together with butter until light and fluffy, about 3 mins. Add ½ tsp of vanilla extract, and the finely ground roasted hazelnuts, and beat for another minute.
4. Beat in the egg until combined with the hazelnut mixture.
5. Peel and core the pears, and slice them to whatever thickness you like. Personally, I like ‘em chunky. Brush with lemon juice to prevent them discolouring.
6. Spread the nut mixture on the toasts, and then arrange the pear slices to suit.
8. Remove from oven. Brush again with lemon juice if you like, and dust with icing sugar and roughly ground hazelnuts. Serve with a generous dollop of vanilla ice cream and serve and eat straightaway!