Pear Napoleon ▶
Pastry Chef Lisa Liggett puts some oomph into the traditional Napoleon — a pastry layered with phyllo and usually cream or mouse fillings and nuts. Here she layers phyllo with the traditional pastry cream but she flavors it with pear liqueur and tucks in a few caramelized pear slices. The dessert is elegant, delicious, and well within the reach of the home gourmet cook.
- Pastry Cream
- Simple Syrup - 2 cups (see Cooking Basics)
- Vanilla Bean - 1, scraped
- Poire William (pear liqueur) - 1 tablespoon
- Honey - 1/2 cup
- Clarified Butter - 1/2 cup (see Cooking Basics)
- Frozen Phyllo - Four, 14×18-inch sheets, defrosted
- Pears - 8, small, ripe but firm, cored, peeled
- Unsalted Butter - as needed
- Heavy whipping cream - 1 cup, whipped to soft peak stage
- Raspberries - garnish
- Mint sprigs - garnish
- Pastry Cream
- Milk - 1-2/3 cup
- Sugar - 1/3 cup
- Egg Yolks - 6
- Pinch of salt
- Cornstarch - 2 teaspoons
- Vanilla Extract - 1 teaspoon
- Poire William - 1 tablespoon
- Butter - 1 tablespoon
Make Pastry Cream and cool to room temperature. In a small saucepan,combine simple syrup, the seeds scraped from the vanilla bean, and the Poire William. Reduce over moderate heat until slightly thickened, by about one third.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl combine the butter and honey, whisking to mix. Keep phyllo sheets covered with a clean, damp towel. Working with one phyllo sheet at a time, using a pastry brush, brush entire surface with honey-butter mixture. Place another sheet of phyllo on top and repeat until you have a total of 4 sheets of phyllo. Using a sharp knife or scissors, but into 2-1/2-inch squares. Place squares on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. Bake in 350 degree oven for approximately 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool.
Slice the cored, peeled pears into 8 segments each. Saute pear segments, one batch at a time, in about 2 tablespoons of butter in a saute pan until they are brown on both sides. Remove from pan and let cool.
To serve: Place one phyllo square on each of 8 dessert places. Pipe pastry cream on top, just enough to provide a 1/4-inch layer. Place 3 pear slices on top of pastry cream,with half of the slices extending onto the plate. Top with another phyllo square. Pipe on pastry cream and place 3 to 4 more pear slices on a second side of the phyllo square. Top with phyllo square that has been dusted with powdered sugar. Form two quenelles of whipped cream using two soup spoons and place on third side of phyllo square. Using a squeeze bottle, drizzle plate with the Poire William syrup. Garnish with raspberries and a mint sprig.
Combine the milk and half of the sugar in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Whisk the yolks and the rest of the sugar in a bowl with the salt. Stir in the cornstarch. when the milk boils, whisk a third of the milk into the egg mixture, whisking constantly to temper. Pour back into the saucepan of milk and whisk constantly until the mixture returns to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and Poire William. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and stir in the butter. Place plastic wrap directly against the surface of the cream. Let cool.