I love Fall, but it can be bittersweet if you are a gardener. I am not a gardener, but my mother is one of the extraordinary sort. Her lawn is always impeccable and her flower beds are award-winning (no kidding!). Lately she's been hard at work pulling up annuals and cleaning out the remnants of her vegetable garden. While I was assembling this dessert, it occurred to me that this might be something she would want to make in the colder months, when she's lonely for gardening. Small pears remind me of flower bulbs, and here they are poached and "planted" on ready-made puff pastry. Once baked and cooled, they are sprinkled with"soil" (chocolate shavings), and a sprig of mint on top gives the effect of emerging leaves.
My last pear and puff pastry creation was easy to make, but this might be even easier! I firmly believe that anyone can make this... and should.
Poached Pear in Puff Pastry Bed
Yield: 6 servings [click for printable]
Poach the pears:
6 firm Bosc pears or 12 firm Seckel pears, peeled
2 quarts of water
3 cups granulated sugar
2 vanilla beans, split
2-4 Whole star anise
3 cinnamon sticks
1. Fill a medium saucepan with 2 quarts of water. Squeeze lemon into the water, then add sugar, vanilla beans, star anise and cinnamon sticks. Add the squeezed lemon rind also.
2. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. When sugar has dissolved, add pears.
3. Simmer peeled pears for 25 minutes. Remove from heat and place pears on a plate to drain.
Make the tranche (puff pastry container):
1 package puff pastry (the kind that has two sheets that tri-fold)
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon of water (egg wash)
1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment, set aside. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Allow puff pastry to thaw according to directions. Roll puff pastry slightly thinner with a rolling pin. Transfer to baking sheet and coat with egg wash.
3. Place 3 (6 if using Seckels) poached pears in the middle of each puff pastry. Beginning at the bottom, near the pears, fold in the edges of the puff pastry accordion style (like you'd fold a fan) creating a tall edge on each side. You may also choose to cut a 6x12 inch rectangle of puff pastry for the bottom, then cut two 1/2 inch strips to stack on the edges. (see picture below)
4. Score the edges with the back of a knife, creating a quilted pattern.
5. Bake for 18-20 minutes at 425 degrees, or until puff pastry is golden.
6 mint sprigs
3/4 cup chocolate shavings
1. When pastry is cool, sprinkle chocolate shavings around the base of the pears and into the tranche.
2. Insert 1 sprig of mint into the tops of the poached pears where the stem would be.
3. To divide into servings, cut puff pastry between pears. Serve with a knife and fork.
Note: I did not core my pears, but you may choose to do so.