I was flipping tv channels a couple of weeks ago, and I caught the very end of a segment in which Giada was making a rustic crostata with dried apricots, walnuts, and cubes of taleggio. It sounded like such an interesting mix, and it sounded so autumnal, I was sure I could make it seem like fall around here by baking it. By the time I was ready to get baking, we had received some apples and pears from our CSA, so I changed the plan just slightly by using those fresh fruits instead of dried apricots. Now, about that cheese, yes, it is usually a savory cheese. Taleggio is a soft, washed rind cheese that’s relatively mild-flavored, and I was curious about how it would work in a sweet dessert. As it melted into the fruit and nuts, it added richness and interest, and if you weren’t told it was there, you might not realize there was cheese in the filling at all. The crostata was perfect served warm from the oven, and I preferred the leftovers re-heated rather than served cold from the refrigerator.
There wasn’t just cheese in the filling, there was also mascarpone in the crust. The dough was made in a food processor by combining flour, salt, sugar, and butter. It was pulsed until the butter was coarsely mixed into the flour, and mascarpone and lemon juice were added. The machine was pulsed a few more times, and then it was left running briefly while ice water was added. The dough was wrapped and refrigerated for 30 minutes before being rolled out on parchment paper cut to the size of a baking sheet. That was a great tip by the way. By rolling the dough on parchment paper, it was very easy to lift the paper and move it with the dough to a baking sheet in one fell swoop. Then, the dough was topped with a mixed of chopped pears, apples, walnuts, half of the cubed taleggio, a little flour since I was using fresh fruit, lemon zest, cinnamon, sea salt, and honey. The edges of the dough were rolled up and over, and the remaining cubed cheese was scattered on top. The dough edges received an egg wash, and the crostata baked for about 40 minutes.
I will say this is not a dessert for ice cream or whipped cream on the side. It requires no embellishment, but it was delicious with a glass of wine. Nuts, honey, fruit, and cheese were enveloped in a golden, flaky crust, and the warm, sweet flavors were accented by the mildly tangy cheese. It’s still about 95 degrees, so I didn’t make fall happen, but the flavors made it seem like fall should be coming soon.