This elegant, seasonal dessert will be the perfect ending to your Thanksgiving Day feast. Flaky puff pastry cases hold pockets of white wine-caramel pastry cream, and a fork tender poached pear rests on top of each puff.
1/2cup120 ml sparkling white wine (recommend spumante)
5tablespoons65g granulated sugar
1/4cup3 oz. dulce de leche
6small firm but ripe pears
1bottle750 ml white wine (or remaining spumante from pastry cream)
2cups480 ml water
Zest of 1 lemon
Puff pastry cases
3sheets1 1/2 boxes puff pastry, thawed
Beat the whole egg and egg yolks into the cornstarch/heavy cream mixture. Pour 1/3 of boiling wine mixture into the egg mixture, whisking constantly so the eggs do not cook. Return the remaining champagne/heavy cream mixture to a boil. Pour in the hot egg mixture in a stream, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens considerably. Remove from heat and add the dulce de leche; stir until melted and smooth. Add the butter and stir until completely melted. Let cool and cover with plastic wrap so that the plastic touches the surface of the pastry cream. This will prevent a skin developing on top.
Peel the pears using a small paring knife, keeping the stems intact. Brush the pears with lemon juice so they don’t brown.
In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, wine, water, cinnamon sticks, and lemon zest. Place over medium high heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved; increase heat and bring to a boil.
Add the pears to the liquid and simmer until fork-tender, usually about 20 minutes, but more time will be required for very firm pears. Remove pears to a wire rack or a plate to cool.
Puff Pastry Cases
On a work surface, lightly roll a puff pastry sheet with a rolling pin until the creases in the dough are flattened. Cut five 3.5-inch circles out of the dough using a cookie cutter. Repeat the process with a second puff pastry sheet. From the last sheet of puff pastry, cut two circles. You should now have twelve 3.5-inch puff pastry circles.
Transfer six circles to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a 2-inch cookie cutter (or bottle cap) cut a circle into the centers of the remaining 6 puff pastry circles, but do not remove the cut out centers.
Beat the egg and water together in a small bowl. Brush the pastry circles on the parchment-lined baking sheet with the egg wash and top each with the circles with the cut centers. Chill in the freezer for 10-15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Bake the pastries for 10-12 minutes, or until they are golden and well-puffed. Please note that some of the pastry cases may puff out of shape accordion-style. If this happens, set them upright and lightly press the case back into shape while the pastry is still hot. Gently dig out/lift out their round centers using a fork (you can serve this piece of pastry on the side, or just eat it!). Let cool completely before filling.
6 mint leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Just before serving, place the puff pastry shells on a serving tray. Fill each pastry with the pastry cream to the top; rest a single poached pear on top of each pastry over the cream. Using a small paring knife, make a slit to one side of the top stem and insert a mint leaf in the opening. Sprinkle a pinch of ground cinnamon over each pear and serve immediately.
Make ahead: The puff pastry cases can be made a day ahead and kept in an air-tight container. The pastry cream can be made 2-3 days ahead, and stored in the refrigerator. The pears can be poached and cooled, then transferred to the refrigerator and stored in their syrup for up to 4 days. Bring pastry cream and pears to room temperature before assembling. Assemble just before serving.