Caramelized Pear Pocket with Cinnamon Ice Cream
This dessert arrives at the table wrapped and tied like a present. Inside a flaky pastry wrapping is a layer of luscious almond cream, caramelized pears redolent of maple syrup, toasted pine nuts and plump rum-raisins. The dessert is garnished with the chef's own cinnamon ice cream, for which we give a recipe. However, you can substitute vanilla ice cream. The beautiful crisp pear chip has been sliced lengthwise paper thin on a mandoline and deep-fried. However, fruit chips are available packaged at gourmet and health food stores, and you may substitute a prepared pear or fruit chip. Brick dough is much like phyllo, which is more available, and the two can be considered interchangeable.
- Pears - 2, large, peeled, cored, cut lengthwise into eighths
- Maple Syrup - 1/2 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Vanilla bean - 1/2
- Currants or raisins - 1 cup, dried
- Water - 1/2 cup
- Rum - 1 teaspoon
- Almond Cream (recipe follows)
- Melted Butter - as needed
- Dough - 8 disks of brick dough or 8 sheets frozen phyllo, defrosted
- Pine nuts - 1 scant cup, pan-toasted (see Cooking Basics)
- Vanilla Beans - 4, simmered in water until pliable
- Confectioner's sugar - as needed
- Honey - as needed
- Cinnamon Ice Cream - (recipe follows), or prepared vanilla ice cream
- Pear chips
- Cinnamon Ice Cream
- Half & Half - 1 quart, divided
- Egg Yolks - 6
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Powdered Milk - 3/4 cup
- Cinnamon - 1 teaspoon
- Almond Cream
- Slivered Almonds - 1-3/4 cups blanched, for almond flour
- All-Purpose Flour - 1/4 cup
- Unsalted Butter - 1 cup, or 2 sticks
- Sugar - 1 cup
- Eggs - 3
Over medium heat in a heavy gauge sauce or saute pan, caramelize pear slices in maple syrup, butter, and the half vanilla bean, split and scraped. When pears are brown but not mushy, remove from heat and set aside. Put the raisins in a small saucepan and add water and rum. Cover and heat until you hear the water boil. Turn off the heat and leave the pan covered to steam the raisins.
To assemble: For each dessert, brush melted butter on the bottom and sides of 4 individual metal tart molds or 4 cups, spaced every other cup apart, in a large muffin pan. For each dessert, lay out two sheets of brick or phyllo dough. Keep dough sheets covered with a damp towel in between to prevent drying. If using 14- x 18-inch phyllo sheets, square off sheets by cutting a 4-inch strip off the long side. Brush the entire surface of one sheet of dough with melted butter. Top with a second sheet of dough and brush with butter. Carefully ease the double dough sheets into the tart molds or muffin tins. Using a pastry tube fitted with a large tip, pipe one layer of almond cream into the bottom of each mold. Sprinkle with toasted pine nuts and raisins. Arrange four slices of pear on top. Close dough by pleating and gathering dough. Tie each packet with a vanilla bean that has been simmered in water until pliable. Bake in a 350 to 400 F oven until pastry is golden brown, about 20 minutes. Dust with confectioner's sugar.
To serve: Place one pear pocket on each of four dessert plates. Using a squeeze bottle, dot plates with honey. Add a quenelle-shaped scoop of ice cream and a pear chip.
Cinnamon Ice Cream
In 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, warm half & half. In bowl, combine egg yolks, with sugar, whisking to mix. Add powdered milk and cinnamon, whisking to combine. Temper mixture by adding a little of the warmed half & half, whisking constantly. Add remaining warm half & half, whisking. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over low heat, whisking constantly until mixture thickens and coats a spoon. Cool to room temperature in a cold water bath. Place cooled mixture in an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s directions.
The almond flour called for is finely ground blanched almonds. It is sometimes available in the baking section of supermarkets; however, it is simple to make in a food processor.
Process almonds in a food processor fitted with the metal blade, using a pulse action, until almonds are finely ground, the texture of sand. Be careful not to over process; the heat generated by the food processor can turn them into almond butter. Sift the almond flour and the all-purpose flour together. Set aside. In a mixer bowl, using the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and mix. With mixer running, add almond flour mixture and beat until a thick smooth paste is formed. Set aside.