Grown-Up Treats to Toast Halloween
Recently-rated dessert wines, a tasty recipe and more for the sweetest holiday
Halloween is this Friday, Oct. 31, and while it's surely a kids' holiday, that doesn't mean that the adults can't enjoy some sweet treats as well. If you've outgrown miniature candy bars and sticky popcorn balls, you'll want to check out our recommended, recently-rated dessert wines, which pair well with Pear and Cheese Tart (recipe below). This dessert gets natural sweetness from ripe pears and a small amount of sugar, while goat cheese and pine nuts lend sophisticated flavor and texture.
Take a look at our archive for lots of other great dessert recipes, including seasonal treats like Baked Apples with Sauternes Cream, Pumpkin Gingerbread and Spiced Chestnut Cake. If you're planning to serve more that just dessert, use our recipe search to help plan your menu. And, in addition to the wines listed below, our wine ratings database has notes, scores and prices for thousands of recently-rated wines of all types, including hundreds of dessert wines.
Whatever your plans, we wish you a Happy Halloween!
Pear and Cheese Tart
Recipe adapted from The All American Cheese and Wine Book (Stewart, Tabori & Chang), by Laura Werlin
• 6 ounces fresh goat cheese, room temperature
• 1 large egg
• 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
• 1/4 cup pine nuts
• 1 9-inch pre-baked tart shell
• 2 Comice or very ripe Bosc pears, cored, peeled and sliced 1/8 inch thick
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 teaspoons decorative sugar or crushed sugar cubes
1. Preheat the oven to 375° F, with the rack in center position.
2. Whisk together the cheese, egg, sugar and vanilla in a mixing bowl until smooth. Stir in the pine nuts. Pour into the pre-baked tart shell, and spread evenly across the bottom.
3. Place the pear slices over the filling, slightly overlapping, in a circular pattern, starting at the edge of the tart shell and continuing toward the middle. Brush the pears with the melted butter, and sprinkle with the sugar.
4. Place the tart on a baking sheet, and bake until the edges are golden and the pears have softened and browned around the edges, 35 to 45 minutes. Remove from the oven, and place on a wire rack to cool before serving. Serves 8 to 10.
Recommended Dessert Wines
OREMUS Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos 2000 Score: 92 | $64 / 500ml
Losing a little flesh in lieu of structure, this is nonetheless concentrated and fresh. Peach, pear compote and floral aromas and flavors flow gracefully, picking up a mineral note on the long finish. Great for fresh fruit tarts. Drink now through 2025. 11,000 cases made. —B.S.
THE ROYAL TOKAJI WINE CO. Tokaji Aszú 5 Puttonyos Red Label 2003 Score: 91 | $39 / 500ml
An attractive mix of apricot, orange marmalade and mango, with a hint of iodine aromas and flavors. It's compact, with a mouthwatering finish of dried fruit and mineral. Drink now through 2020. 5,200 cases made. —B.S.
MACULAN Moscato Breganze Dindarello 2006 Score: 91 | $22
Displays aromas of fresh fern and aromatic bark, with tightly packed pineapple and blood orange notes. Full-bodied and medium sweet, with an intense palate and a lip-smacking finish. Full of individual, vibrant character. Drink now. 9,000 cases made. —J.C.
BODEGAS DIOS BACO Pedro Ximénez Jerez NV Score: 90 | $10 / 500ml
Thick and espresso-colored, this PX bursts with raisin, fig, coffee and molasses aromas and flavors. It certainly coats the palate, but there's a fiery astringency that offsets the intense sweetness. Drink now. 4,000 cases made. —B.S.
GONZALEZ BYASS Oloroso Jerez Solera 1847 Dulce NV Score: 89 | $16
A sweet style, offering caramel, butter, coffee and molasses aromas and flavors. It's balanced, with a combination of acidity and bitterness keeping the finish clean. Drink now. 26,500 cases made. —B.S.
LOEL Commandaria Alasta NV Score: 89 | $13
Very mapley and sweet, with concentrated flavors of fig, almond butter and baked peach. Rich, lush finish is filled with spice and pastry notes. Drink now through 2015. 50,000 cases made. —K.M.
PEDRO ROMERO Moscatel Jerez Dark Sweet NV Score: 88 | $10
This offers raisin, orange peel, fig and roasted almond aromas and flavors. It's opulent, with a slight bitterness on the caramel and orange-tinged aftertaste. Drink now. 10,000 cases made. —B.S.
D. KOURTAKIS Mavrodaphne Patras Kourtaki NV Score: 88 | $10
A dessert-style red, with concentrated flavors of milk chocolate, blackberry and spice. Quite fresh and lively, especially on the rich finish. Drink now. 300,000 cases made. —K.M.
CASTELLO BANFI Moscadello di Montalcino Florus 2006 Score: 88 | $20 / 500ml
Aromas and flavors of cider apple, with hints of vanilla biscuit and spice. Full-bodied. Medium sweet, clean and spicy, with a fresh, citrusy, minerally finish. Drink now. 2,500 cases made. —J.S.
D. KOURTAKIS Muscat Samos Kourtaki NV Score: 87 | $11
Lush and sweet, with apricot and pear flavors and a fresh, buttery finish. Serve chilled or on the rocks as an aperitif. Drink now. 300,000 cases made. —K.M.