Caramelized Poached Pear with Chocolate Mousse in a Tulipe
This dessert has all of the flavors of spring and would make a wonderful ending to an Easter dinner. The pears are carved into the shape of eggs, poached, and coated with caramel sauce. They surround a very light chocolate mousse in a crisp cookie cup. All components of this dish may be prepared 1 day in advance. Keep the cookie tulipes in an airtight container, and cover and refrigerate the pears, mousse, caramel sauce, and chocolate butterflies until ready to use.
- Poached Pears
- Pears - 4 large
- Water - 3 cups
- Dry white wine - 1 cup
- Granulated Sugar - 1 cup
- Grated Orange Zest - 1 tablespoon
- Cloves - 2
- Ground nutmeg - 1/4 teaspoon
- Cinnamon Stick - 1, broken in half
- Chocolate Mousse
- Semisweet Chocolate - 2-1/2 ounces, chopped
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 3/4 cup
- Egg Whites - 2
- Granulated Sugar - 1 tablespoon
- Tulipe Cookies
- Unsalted Butter - 5 tablespoons, at room temperature
- Confectioner’s Sugar - 5 tablespoons, sifted
- Egg Whites - 2
- Cake flour - 3 tablespoons
- Chocolate Butterflies (optional)
- Semisweet Chocolate - 2 , chopped
- Caramel sauce - 2 cup (see Basics)
- Cognac - 2 tablespoons
- Fresh strawberries - 20, hulled and halved
- Pistachio nuts - 1/2 cup, finely chopped
- Fresh mint sprigs - 4
- Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
To prepare the pears: Cut each pear into 5 even sections and carve each piece into an egg-shaped oval (“tournee”) with a paring knife. Combine all the remaining ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Simmer the liquid for 5 minutes, then add the pears and cook for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the pears are tender.
To make the mousse: Melt the chocolate in a large bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Set aside. In a deep bowl, beat the heavy cream until it holds soft peaks; set aside. In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until foamy, then add the sugar and beat until stiff, glossy peaks form. Fold the beaten whites into the melted chocolate, then fold in the whipped cream. Cover and chill.
To make the cookies: In a medium bowl, beat the butter and the confectioner’s sugar until light and fluffy. Slowly add the egg whites and the cake flour, mixing until fully incorporated.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with butter, then dust it with flour. Drop 1 tablespoonful of dough onto the baking sheet and spread it with a thin metal spatula into a circle 4 inches in diameter. Repeat, distributing the cookies evenly across the baking sheet, leaving 3 inches between them. Bake the cookies in the preheated oven until they are golden brown, about 5 to 8 minutes. Working quickly, lift a warm cookie and mold over an inverted small glass or custard cup to form a 2-inch-diameter cup. Repeat with the remaining cookies. If the cookies become too cool to bend without breaking, return to the oven for a few moments to rewarm before proceeding. Let cool, then lift off and set aside.
To make the chocolate butterflies: Drawn an outline of a butterfly on a piece of waxed paper or parchment paper. Fold another small piece of waxed paper in half, then lay it over the drawing, smoothing out the fold and making sure that the folded line is in the center of the butterfly drawing. Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring until smooth. Let cool slightly, then transfer the chocolate to a parchment paper cone; snip a small hole in the end. Trace the outline of the butterfly drawing, then fill in lightly with chocolate. Fold in half in a V-shape and transfer to the refrigerator. Prop on both sides to retain the V-shape and let chill and set. Make 4 butterflies.
Transfer the chilled chocolate mousse to a pastry bag fitted with a fluted star tip. Fill the cookie bowls with the chocolate mousse and chill until firm.
To assemble: Warm the caramel sauce and add the Cognac, stirring to incorporate. Add the pears, stirring gently to coat them evenly. Place a cookie basket in the center of each plate. Put a mint sprig in the top of each and lightly dust with confectioner’s sugar. Arrange 5 pear pieces in a star pattern around each cookie bowl and drizzle some caramel sauce over the pears. Slice each strawberry half into thin vertical pieces, leaving them attached at the top. Place 10 strawberry halves between the pear pieces on each plate, fanning them out. Sprinkle the pears with chopped pistachios. Perch a chocolate butterfly on the edge of each chocolate mousse.