Poached Pear Pastry
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.
- 1 1- pound sheet puff pastry thawed
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
BLUE CHEESE PASTRY CREAM
- 2 cups whole milk or light cream or a combination of the two
- 6 egg yolks
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- Pinch kosher salt
- ½ cup all-purpose flour sifted
- 4 ounces Gorgonzola or other creamy blue cheese rind removed, and crumbled
- 2 cups ruby port
- 2 cups water
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 7 to 8 black peppercorns
- 4 to 5 whole cardamom pods
- 4 firm pears try Bosc or Comice
- 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
- In a small saucepan, heat milk or light cream over medium-low heat.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- In a medium saucepan combine the first 6 ingredients and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir occasionally to help sugar dissolve.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- Meanwhile, quarter pears vertically and remove cores. Cut each quarter lengthwise into 5 slices.
- 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.