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Poached Pear Pastry


Poached Pear Pastry
Serves 16
The beauty of this elegant confection is that the blue cheese–enriched pastry cream and the port-poached pears can both be made a few days ahead of time, leaving you with little more than assembly the day you plan to serve it.
Ingredients
    PASTRY
    1. 1 1-pound sheet puff pastry, thawed
    2. 1 egg, lightly beaten
    3. 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
    BLUE CHEESE PASTRY CREAM
    1. 2 cups whole milk or light cream (or a combination of the two)
    2. 6 egg yolks
    3. ½ cup granulated sugar
    4. Pinch kosher salt
    5. ½ cup all-purpose flour, sifted
    6. 4 ounces Gorgonzola or other creamy blue cheese, rind removed, and crumbled
    POACHED PEARS
    1. 2 cups ruby port
    2. 2 cups water
    3. 1½ cups granulated sugar
    4. 1 cinnamon stick
    5. 7 to 8 black peppercorns
    6. 4 to 5 whole cardamom pods
    7. 4 firm pears (try Bosc or Comice)
    Instructions
      PASTRY
      1. Heat oven to 400°F. Line a 13-inch-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface, unfold puff pastry sheet and roll into a 12½-inch-by-12½-inch square. Use the tip of a paring knife to lightly score a ½-inch-wide border around the edges of the pastry. Brush border with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar, then transfer pastry to the prepared baking sheet. Prick the surface of the pastry all over with a fork. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, until pastry is puffed and golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
      BLUE CHEESE PASTRY CREAM
      1. In a small saucepan, heat milk or light cream over medium-low heat.
      2. In a medium saucepan, beat egg yolks with sugar and salt for 2 to 3 minutes until mixture is thick and pale yellow. Gradually whisk flour into egg mixture until fully combined.
      3. Warm egg mixture over medium heat and slowly whisk in warm milk, adding a little at a time and whisking until fully incorporated. Whisk for another 2 minutes—lumps can form, so whisk vigorously—then switch from a whisk to a wooden spoon, and stir for another 2 to 3 minutes, until mixture has thickened a bit.
      4. Add blue cheese and stir into pastry cream until melted. Remove from heat and pass through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Stir a few times to release additional heat, then cover the surface of the pastry cream with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. You’ll have about 2 cups of pastry cream (can be made 2 to 3 days ahead).
      PEARS
      1. In a medium saucepan combine the first 6 ingredients and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir occasionally to help sugar dissolve.
      2. While liquid is heating, peel pears, leaving the stem intact, and cut a thin slice off the bottom of each pear so it can stand upright.
      3. Place pears in the poaching liquid and turn heat to low. Partially cover and maintain a bare simmer. Cook for 35 to 40 minutes, turning pears occasionally so they evenly absorb the port’s color. Remove from heat and cool pears in the liquid (can be made up to 5 days ahead—refrigerate liquid and pears in a lidded container if storing).
      TO ASSEMBLE
      1. Remove pears from liquid. Strain liquid and return to saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until liquid reduces to a thick syrup, 15 to 20 minutes.
      2. Meanwhile, quarter pears vertically and remove cores. Cut each quarter lengthwise into 5 slices.
      3. Spread pastry cream onto the pastry shell, leaving the border bare. Arrange pear slices in overlapping strips on top of the pastry cream. To serve, cut slices and drizzle with a bit of the reserved port syrup.
      Notes
      1. Try this recipe with Ireland's Crozier Blue, from Cashel Farmhouse Cheesemakers, which brought home a World Cheese Award in 2016.
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      Rebecca Haley-Park

      Rebecca Haley-Park is culture's senior editor and resident stinky cheese cheerleader. A native New Englander, she now lives and works in Boston.

      Photographer Evi Abeler

      Evi Abeler is a food and still life photographer based in New York City. She helps art directors, cookbook authors and designers to communicate the love, passion and thought that goes into every project and creates modern, yet classic images. Her clients in advertising, publishing, hospitality and retail include Food & Wine Magazine (which named her Digital Food Award Winner), Harper Collins Publishing and Whole Foods Markets.

      Leigh Belanger

      Leigh Belanger stands tall as culture's food editor. She's been a food writer, editor, and project manager for over a decade, serving as program director for Chefs Collaborative and contributing to local newspapers and magazines, where she's written about whoopie pies, food policy, and cheesemaking chefs. Her first book, The Boston Homegrown Cookbook, was published in 2012. She lives and cooks in Boston with her family.