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REC: Caramelized Pears in Puff Pastry from Julia Child. Unbelievably good, very impressive..

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Joined: Dec 14, 2005

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Posted to Thread #3578 at 6:45 pm on Sep 17, 2006

and not half as hard as it sounds.

CARAMELIZED PEARS IN PUFF PASTRY
<i>Feuilletes aux Poires</i>

From <i>The Way to Cook</i> by Julia Child

Pear halves are sliced almost to the stem and simmered in caramel butter, the slices slowly fanning out, and served in puff pastry with pastry cream, whipped cream and caramel for a very special dessert. The puff pastry and pastry cream can be on hand in your freezer. The pears and caramel can be made up to a day ahead. The cream can be whipped an hour ahead [I prefer a dab of creme fraiche.] Assemble right before serving.

3 fine, unblemished pears
Freshly squeezed lemon juice
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup sugar
3 Tbs. dark Jamaican rum
A pinch of salt
6 baked puff pastry rectangles [below] split in half
1 cup rum-flavored pastry cream [below]
1/2 cup chilled heavy cream, whipped, sweetened and flavored with rum or vanilla [or creme fraiche]

Equipment: A melon baller; a heavy 10-inch frying pan, no stick recommended; a cover for the pan; a bulb baster

THE PEARS: Halve the pears one at a time lengthwise, halving the stem also if possible. Remove the core with the melon baller and the bud end (bottom) with a small knife. Peel the pear halves. Again with a small knife, and starting below the stem, slice the pear half, keeping the slices attached at the stem end. Brush lightly with lemon juice to prevent discoloration, and set aside on a plate while doing the rest.

CARAMELIZING THE PEARS: Melt the butter in the frying pan, stir in the sugar, and cook several minutes over moderately high heat, stirring slowly and constantly, until the butter foams and turns a caramel brown. Don't worry if it lumps. Remove the pan from heat and add the pears domed side up in a single layer. Bring to the bubble, cover the pan and regulate heat so pears are slowly simmering. Every several minutes baste the pears with the caramel. As they cook, the caramel will clear of lumps and foam, and the pears will gradually fan out. They will be tender in 15 minutes or so. Remove to a non-stick surface.

CARAMEL SAUCE: Boil down the caramel with the rum and pinch of salt until it is a fairly thick syrup. Pour into a smallish saucepan and reserve. (Both pears and caramel sauce may be cooked a cay in advance; cover and refrigerate.)

ASSEMBLY: Shortly before serving, drop a pool of caramel sauce in the center of each plate-- about 1-1/2 tablespoons. Place the bottom layer of pastry a little to the side of the sauce. Spread a layer of pastry cream over the pastry, then lift a pear half crosswise over the cream, letting the slices fan out. Anoint the pear with a good spoonful of caramel sauce, and drop a big spoonful of cream at one side of the pastry, placing the pastry top at the other side. Serve promptly."


PUFF PASTRY RECTANGLES:

[I'll give Julia's puff pastry recipe if you'd like, but it's hard to describe without the pictures]

Roll our about 14 oz. of puff pastry dough into an 8- by 10-inch rectangle 1/4 inch thick. Cut into 6 even rectangles, 2-1/2 by 5 inches, and arrange upside down on a dampened baking sheet (or wrap and freeze). Chill 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 450*. Just before baking, plunge a sharp skewer down through each pastry in three places--this helps stabilize the layers. Paint the tops with 2 coats of egg glaze (1 egg beaten with 1/2 teaspoon water), and cut shallow cross-hatchings on the surface, going down into the dough with the point of a small knife. Bake in the preheated oven until nicely puffed and brown, about 15 minutes. the sides should feel crisp. Cool on a rack.

If baked ahead, re-crisp in a hot oven.


PASTRY CREAM

Julia Creme Patissiere from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. I

Makes 2-1/2 cups

5 egg yolks
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
1 Tbs. butter
2 tsp. vanilla and 2 to 3 Tbs. rum, kirsh, cognac, orange liqueur

Beat the yolks in an electric mixer, gradually adding the sugar, until the mixture is thick and "forms the ribbon" (a bit of it lifted with the beater falls back into the bowl forming a slowly dissolving ribbon on the surface). Beat in the flour. Meanwhile, bring the milk to boil in a 2- 1/2 quart saucepan. Continue to beat the egg mixture while you add the milk in a thin stream. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk. The custard will become lumpy as it comes to a boil but will smooth out as you beat it. When the boil is reached, turn the heat down to medium- low and continue to beat for 2 to 3 minutes to cook the flour. (Be careful not to scorch the bottom of the pan.) Remove from heat and beat in the butter, then one of the flavorings. If not to be used right away, dot with butter to prevent a skin from forming.

Creme patissiere will keep for a week under refrigeration or can be frozen.


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