Maple sugar adds the beautiful flavours of maple syrup to baking without the liquid content, making it ideal to use in pastry, like we have here. We've doubled the hit by roasting the pears in it too.
- 650 gm firm ricotta
- 120 gm maple sugar (see note), plus extra topping
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp finely grated nutmeg
- 3 egg yolks
- 25 gm fine fresh white breadcrumbs
Maple sugar crust
- 150 gm (1 cup) plain flour
- 75 gm maple sugar
- 35 gm cornflour
- ¾ tsp baking powder
- 125 gm chilled unsalted butter, diced
- 1 egg, lightly whisked
Maple roast pears
- 200 gm maple sugar
- 4 ripe beurre bosc or Josephine pears, peeled, halved and cored
- 125 ml (½ cup) maple syrup
- 3 cinnamon quills
- 1Preheat oven to 180C. For maple sugar crust, combine dry ingredients in a bowl with a pinch of salt, add butter and rub in with your fingertips until fine crumbs form. Add egg, mix in with a knife (to avoid overworking the gluten), form into a disc and refrigerate to rest (30 minutes).
- 2Process ricotta, sugar, vanilla, rinds, spices and egg yolks in a food processor, add breadcrumbs, process to combine and set aside.
- 3Roll out pastry on a lightly floured surface to a 3mm-thick round and line the base and sides of a 24cm-diameter loose-bottomed tart tin, letting edges of pastry overhang the sides. Spoon in ricotta mixture, smooth top, fold in pastry edges, brush with eggwash, scatter with extra maple sugar and bake until golden and set (20-25 minutes), then in tin cool to room temperature.
- 4For maple roast pears, increase oven to 220C. Spread sugar evenly in a roasting pan, press cut sides of pears into sugar and stand for 5 minutes, then turn over. Scatter orange rind in the pan, then drizzle orange and lemon juices around pears. Pour maple syrup over pears, scatter in cinnamon quills, then pour 60ml water around pears (not over the top) and roast, basting pears with pan juices occasionally and turning occasionally until caramelised and just tender (30-35 minutes). Serve warm on tart. Best eaten on day of making.
Note Maple sugar, made from maple syrup, has a caramel, maple flavour. It's sold in health-food shops and at ocanada.com.au. You can substitute raw caster sugar, but you won't get the maple flavour.