advice on poached pear/puff pastry dessert?
I would like to make something to this effect for thanksgiving dinner, but I am not sure about the details.
Was thinking of either poaching or baking pears with cinnamon, vanilla, maybe maple or ginger flavors, and then encasing in puff pastry, to make sort of a "dumpling" type thing. I seem to remember apple dumplings done this way - the only good thing in my college's dining hall!
So, many questions about this:
1)I've never poached or baked pears. Any tips? What are the best types of pears to use? whole or halved? bake or poach?
2) puff pastry - will this work? any problems with enveloping the already cooked pears with some syrup type reduction in puff pastry? Should I just do a center-the-fruit, gather-the-edges-and-pinch procedure? will the pastry get too soggy? or should I try to do some other type of pastry, something more substantial? I like the idea of it being not so thick and heavy.
If anyone has a recipe, that would be great. If not, any thoughts or musings would be much appreciated! Either way, I will definitely do a test run before the big day. THANKS!
There are infinite varieties of this kind of dessert. I've done a stuffed poached pear covered with brioche and it turned out incredibly delicious. I served it with a pear muscat anglaise.
I used whole Bosc pears, as they hold up best to cooking. (If you have access to Warren pears, they have the best pear flavor imagineable and may not require poaching as they're a softer pear.) The poaching liquid was 1 part sugar and 4 parts liquid. I used some white dessert wine as part of the liquid, and threw in a sprig of thyme, 2 slices of lemon peel, 1/2 vanilla bean 1 slice of ginger, a cardamom pod, 1 bay leaf, and a few peppercorns. This is a nice aromatic combination. Core and peel the pears at the last minute to keep them from browning too much. I use a melon baller to remove the core. Be sure the pears are covered with the liquid and top with parchment. Poach gently and watch the poach closely. Depending on ripeness of the pears, they could be ready in 15 minutes. A knife should easily pierce the pear.
I stuffed the pear with a mixture of yellow cake crumbs, crushed amaretti cookie, some brown sugar, some chopped toasted almond slices, and bound with a splash of orange juice. You could use whatever you like and have on hand, including adding a touch of the poaching liquid or other liqueur or a favorite spice or praline, or..... I made brioche and made sure to roll it very, very thin so it would wrap easily and not overwhelm the pear. I rolled out a circle, cut a tiny "x" in the center to poke the pear stem through, then carefully wrapped the pear smoothly and brought the dough over the bottom, cutting away any excess to remove bulk and to make sure it could stand easily. I wanted to maintin the sexy shape of the pair, but you could cover from bottom up if you like, and use pear pieces rather than the whole pear. I then refrigered untill well chilled. Brushed the whole thing with egg wash, sprinkled with granualted sugar, and baked @ 325 degrees for about 15 minutes until golden brown. I realize that most people don't want to make brioche, but puff would work just as well. I was just shooting for a softer texture to complement the silkiness of the pear.
So I think the important things are not to overcook the pears. Remove them from the liquid when they are done, and cool and drain them completely before covering with pastry. Cover them which ever way you want, making sure the dough is not bunched up too much or it will not bake evenly. If you gather dough at the top, turn back the tops to open it up a bit. Be sure you chill before baking so the dough is very firm and will hold its shape as it bakes. If you stuff the pear, be careful to do so loosely. If your stuffing is wet and you're wrapping upward, place amaretti crumbs or something on the dough to prevent sogginess. Make sure your dough is completely sealed, using an egg wash. Bake on parchment or silpat if you can. If you're not into making anglaise, it's just as delicious served with vanilla or caramel or cinnamon ice cream or .....I hope this helps. The most important thing is to enjoy the pear season!