Introduction: A Partridge and a Pear Tree

I dream of food...constantly. When I picked up these cute little tree molds a few years ago I started scheming of what to do with them to make an extraordinary Christmas dessert. In a dream...literally...the idea came to me. One of my favorite Christmas poems of all time is The Twelve Days of Christmas. The idea is to create a surprise for your guests. Don't tell them the name of the dessert (My dad always needed a name for the dish I served him--generally had to make it up on the spot, and he was happy.) Everyone loves pie, so this is a tiny version with a cookie crust and pear filling.
So, several years later, with the urging of my son (an instructables devotee) here's the fun holiday dessert. I'm sure it will be a "must have" Christmas dessert from now on at our house, and hopefully yours!

Equipment needed:
measuring cups
measuring spoons
hand mixer
medium sized bowls
flexible scraper
medium sized skillet or pot
6 tree molds--found them here, or look on e-bay or etsy for old jello molds from the 50s
non-stick baking spray
large holed grater
rolling pin
paring knife
sheet pan
small sieve
parchment or wax paper
pastry bag (optional)
pastry tips (optional)

Ingredients needed:
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg
3 pears
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup water
3-inch cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces white chocolate
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon green decorative sugar

The Plan
Step 1--make the dough and chill it
Step 2--make the filling and chill it
Step 3--press dough in molds, fill with pears, seal with tree cut-out, bake and cool
Step 4--make the chocolate partridges and decorate the trees
Step 5--serve and enjoy!

This can be made over the course of several days, which is excellent for a big holiday meal. In fact, I made the pear tarts, wrapped them individually in plastic wrap and placed in a freezer container. I froze them for a week until I was ready to decorate and serve. They can then be decorated and refrigerated for a day or two before serving. Just be sure to take them out of the refrigerator at least 2 hours before dinner so the filling has time to come to room temperature.

Step 1: The Dough

1/2 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 large egg

Beat the butter, salt, and sugar together in a medium bowl with an electric hand mixer until fluffy.

Add the flour and beat until small clumps of dough is formed.

Add the egg and beat until the dough starts to come together.

Knead by hand until you have a smooth ball.

Wrap in parchment (or plastic wrap) and chill for at least an hour. (or overnight)

Step 2: The Filling

3 pears, peeled, quartered, cored, and sliced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/3 cup water
3-inch cinnamon stick, broken
2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cool water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the pears, wine, water, and cinnamon stick in a medium sized skillet.

Bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until the pears are tender and the syrup starts to thicken.

Stir in the cornstarch slurry and cook another minute until the sauce is thickened.

Remove from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract.

Cool. (Can be used when cool, or covered and chilled overnight.)

Step 3: Creating the Pear Tarts and Baking

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray the inside of the molds with non-stick baking spray.

Cut the dough into 3 parts.

Using the large holed grater, grate 2/3 of the dough.

Divide the grated dough into 6 portions.

Press the grated dough into the tree molds. It doesn't have to be perfect, but try to get an even layer and bring it up to the top edges. (I placed the tarts in the freezer while I rolled out the other dough to cut out the tree shapes.)

With a rolling pin and a floured work surface roll out the remaining 1/3 of the dough to less than 1/8-inch.

Place a mold on the dough and cut around it with a knife to get a tree shape. Gather and re-roll the scraps to cut 6 shapes.

Spoon the pear filling into the tart shells.

Place the tree shapes on the pear tarts and seal by pressing with your fingers all around the edges.

Place on a sheet pan and bake 35-40 minutes until golden brown.

Cool on a rack for 10 minutes. Using the tip of a knife, loosen the tart and turn out onto the rack to cool completely.

Step 4: Decorating


2 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Print out the template for the partridges (located at the bottom of this page), and place a sheet of parchment or wax paper over it.

Chop the chocolate and melt 2/3 of it in the microwave for 20 seconds. Take out and stir. (You may have to microwave a second time, again for 20 seconds) When the first portion of the chocolate is melted  and smooth, add the remaining 1/3 chopped chocolate. Stir until completely smooth. This is a quick temper, so the chocolate will set up.

Spoon the chocolate into a pastry bag with a small round tip. (I used plastic disposable decorating bags, but you could also make (directions here) one out of parchment paper or use a small zip bag, cutting off a small portion of a corner.)

Pipe out the partridges, making sure all the lines are attached, so you have one piece when removed from the parchment.



2 ounces white chocolate
1 teaspoon green decorating sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon powder

Place the tree tarts on a sheet pan with the flat side down.

Chop and melt 2/3 of the white chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave for 20 seconds. Stir and microwave a second time if necessary. When thoroughly melted, stir in the remaining 1/3 of the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth.

With a pastry bag, or just the tip of a spoon, drizzle the white chocolate over the tree tart. Sprinkle immediately with green sugar so it will stick.

Use a dab of white chocolate to adhere the dark chocolate partridge to the tree.

Dust the tree trunk (if your mold has one) with cinnamon powder. Place about 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a small sieve and use a spoon to push it through directly onto the section you want.

Step 5: Eat and Enjoy!

These can be served immediately or kept chilled for a day or two and brought to room temperature before serving.

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