On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me,
A partridge in a pear tree.
This year I decided to do something really fun for Christmas: I’m going to make 12 different recipes all following a “Twelve Days of Christmas” theme. By now, I’m sure most of you have figured out that I am an absolute Christmas freak, and since I love everything food, I thought, why not do something super exciting that will allow me to make and try 12 different recipes!? Over the next few weeks I will be posting a bunch of recipes/treats/etc, one for each verse in the Twelve Days of Christmas Song, until we get through each and every single one of them. The theme of today’s recipe is, of course, a partridge in a pear tree. I found this recipe in the December issue of Woman’s Day Magazine. For the pear, I made a cranberry poached pear, simmered with cinnamon stick, star anise, vanilla bean and a whole naval orange. The partridge portion of this recipe is a partridge pie crisp, egg washed and sprinkles with white sugar.
To make the pears, first combine 6 cups of cranberry juice cocktail and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar in a large saucepan or pot. Simmer on medium heat until the sugar has dissolved into the juice. Next, add your spices; this recipe calls for two cinnamon sticks, one vanilla bean cut in half vertically, and two whole star anise.
Peel 4 to 8 bosc pears and add them to the saucepan. You will want to make sure your pears are quite firm as they will hold their shape much better when simmering. Bosc pears work well when poached as they are a firmer pear to begin with, especially in the winter.
Quarter a large naval orange and ass to sauce pan. Simmer the mixture of medium-low heat (at a very gentle boil) for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pears can be easier pierced with a fork. For best results, cover the sauce pan with a circle of parchment paper, cutting a small hole in the center in order to allow some of the heat to escape.
While the pears are simmering, make a your pie crust. I decided to use a homemade pie crust put you can just as easily purchase a pre-made one if you are pressed for time. cut up one stick of butter (1/2 cup) into small cubes and freeze for at least 15 minutes. Add 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour and 1/2 teaspoon of salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter to the salt and flour mixture and pulse no more than 10 times. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of ice water of the mixture (or more if needed… I used 3 tbsp) and process for no more than 20 to 30 seconds. The dough should stick together when pinched. Shape the dough into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour. Don’t have a food processor? Browneyedbaker.com explains how to do it here. Once your dough is set, remove from fridge and let it sit for a few minutes in order to allow it to warm up a little bit. Roll it out, and use this template to cut out your partridges.
Cut out a partridge for every pear you are serving. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Brush each partridge with a beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Place a small black sprinkle on the head for it’s eye. Bake at 375 F degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.
Once the pears are done, discard the orange and spices and remove from heat to allow the pears to come to room temperature. Remove from the saucepan and place on a platter. Return the liquid to a gentle soil and allow to simmer until reduced to 1 cup (about 45 minutes). Spoon the syrup over the pears and serve with the partridge crisp and homemade whipped cream.
Making homemade whipped cream is very simple! You have to excuse the pictures of the cream I made as my apartment was pretty steamy and I waited much too long to actually take the picture. Place the bowl of a stand mixer in the freezer for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup of cream, 1 tbsp. of sugar, and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extra to the cold bowl. Whip using the whisk attachment until medium peaks form, about 1 minute. You may also use a hand mixer for this, but it will take more like 3 minutes for the peaks to form.
Cranberry Poached Pears and Partridge Crisps
for the pears
- 6 cups cranberry juice cocktail
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 whole star anise
- 1 naval orange, quartered
- 1 vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
- 4 – 8 whole Bosc pears, peeled
for the partridge crisps
- 1/2 cup of butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 1/4 cup flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp ice water
- 1 egg, beaten
- granulated sugar for sprinkling
- black sprinkles
for the whipped cream
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- In a large saucepan, combine 6 cups of cranberry juice cocktail and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar. Heat and stir until sugar is combined. Add 2 small cinnamon sticks, 2 whole star anise, 1 vanilla bean and naval orange.
- Add pears and cover with a circle of parchment paper. Cut a small circle in the middle of the parchment paper cover in order to let some heat escape. Allow the pears to poach in the cranberry liquid for 20 – 25 minutes on medium low heat (or until you can easily pierce with a fork.
- Remove the sauce pan from heat, discard the orange and spices, and allow the pears to come to room temperature. Remove from the liquid and place on a platter.
- Return the liquid to the heat and simmer for approximately 45 minutes. The liquid should be reduced to about 1 cup, and should be like a thick syrup. Pour over poached pears to serve.
- Make the pie crust: place butter in freezer for at least 15 minutes. Add flour and salt to the bowl of a food processor and pulse to combine. Add the butter cubes and pulse no more than 10 times. Sprinkle the ice water of the mixture and process for no more than 30 seconds. Form the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- Using this template, cut out a partridge shape for each pear. Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sugar. Add a black sprinkle to the head for the eye. Bake at 375 F degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.
- Serve with whipped cream: place the bowl of a stand mixer in the freezer for 15 minutes. Remove from cold and add cream, vanilla and sugar. Beat on medium speed until medium peaks form (about 1 minute)
This recipe took me a while to complete… likely because I was in the midst of baking other Christmas treats while I was making it. Note that you can prepare this in advance. Refrigerate the pears in the cooking liquid for up to 2 days. To serve, simply remove the pears from the liquid and place on a platter so that the pears may come to room temperature, then reduce the liquid as instructed above. I have to say that this recipe was pictured in the magazine and it is MUCH pretty than mine… and the sauce is like, 3 shades darker. But it tasted amazing! Anyways, happy baking!
On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me…