Autumn just gets better and better, with new season’s pears appearing and a few quinces making their debut in the markets. My few garden pears are maturing on the tree- protected from cockatoos and parrots by bird netting. All this bountiful plenty makes me think of how wonderful pear desserts can be.
Leah, of the Cookbook Guru, has chosen Karen Martini’s ‘Cooking at Home’ this month. Its a great chance to cook from a recipe book that you might own, or just borrow one, as I did. It is also a chance to be honest and appraise the pros and cons of a recipe. A few pear recipes caught my eye but I decided to make something with a touch of drama, a little trick that I might keep up my sleeve for when friends come over for dinner.
Baked Pears stuffed with prunes, chocolate and almonds. (serves 6)
- 350 g castor sugar
- 2 slices of lemon
- 800 ml water
- 400 ml white wine
- 6 beurre bosc pears, peeled, cored, but with stems left intact
- 2 sheets frozen puff pastry, defrosted
- pure icing sugar for dusting
- good quality ice cream for serving
- 4 Tablespoons sherry ( or other spirit)
- 6 prunes
- 2 Tablespoons currants
- 100 good quality dark chocolate, melted
- 10 g toasted flaked almonds
- 4 pieces glace` ginger, chopped
- Combine the sugar, lemon, water and white wine in a large saucepan over high heat and bring to the boil. add the pears, reduce heat to low, then cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. Remove pears and set aside.
- Preheat the oven to 220c. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.
- Make the stuffing. Heat the sherry in a small saucepan. When hot, add the prunes and currants. Stir, remove from the heat and set aside for 15- 20 minutes. Strain ( if you need to). Combine the melted chocolate, almonds and ginger and prune mixture, then set aside to cool.
- Cut the pear shapes from the pastry sheets, with an extra 3 cm all around. Spread 1 tablespoon of stuffing onto the pastry and sit pears on top. Transfer to the baking tray and bake for 14 minutes. Dust with icing sugar and serve with icecream.
- The pears can be made up to a week ahead. I made one third of the recipe for the actual composed dessert, but ate the other pears for breakfast.
- The stuffing can also be made ahead, leaving the shaping and baking till the last minute.
- It looks dramatic.
- The lovely sounding stuffing tasted only of fruit chocolate. The subtlety of the other ingredients didn’t shine through ( except for the ginger).
- The pastry I used was commercial sheet pastry which was hanging around in my freezer. It wasn’t fabulous. I would suggest a really good quality puff pastry in order to get the benefit of puff and crunch that this dessert probably deserves.
- Mr Tranquillo said he preferred my other pear desserts and was underwhelmed. His opinion was proffered only when pushed!