Pears in Pastry with Caramel Sauce


Pears In Pastry With Caramel Sauce


Ripe pears, cloaked in sweet pastry, baked and served in a pool of Caramel Sauce – what an elegant dessert! As soon as I saw Mary Risley, owner of Tante Marie’s Cooking School in San Francisco make these pears on a video, I knew I had to try them. Judy Witts Francini, owner of Divina Cucina Cooking School in Certaldo, Italy commented that these pears would be perfect for New Year’s Eve, and she is right. Never one to skimp at the holidays, Judy suggested serving the baked pears with chocolate caramel sauce and edible gold leaf. Thank you, Mary and thank you, Judy – two cooking teachers who rock.


Pears Med CU



Judy’s chocolate and gold variation got me thinking about other ways to use the basic caramel sauce. I thought a gently spiced caramel might complement the pears. Ginger, cloves, nutmeg, black peppercorns and cinnamon impart subtle warmth to the dark caramel sauce while star anise added a hint of licorice and vanilla added a deep sweetness. This is caramel sauce transformed. If the spiced version of caramel sauce appeals to you, liven up the pastry too by adding ground black pepper and cloves, a variation shown at the end of the pastry recipe.

Don’t panic. This dessert can be made in steps. Make the sauce, which ever one you choose, several days ahead and refrigerate it. Make the pastry the day before.


Puff Pastry vs Sweet Pastry


If the idea of making your own pastry is simply a total overwhelm, purchase a box of frozen puff pastry, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight, and you are good to go.


Pears In Pastry on silpat


Bake the pears on a sheet pan lined with a flexible silicone baking sheet, such as Silpat. The pears never stick to the Silpat sheet, even if the egg glaze drips onto the mat.

These pears are best eaten right after baking. To really dress them up, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream and edible gold leaf. Your guests will talk about this dessert all through the holidays and into the new year. You can do this.

Pastry

1 2/3 cup 00 flour
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch chunks
1 large egg yolk
4 tablespoons ice water

Glaze

2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 large egg yolk

1 lemon, cut in half


Pastry Ingredients


Place flour, granulated sugar, and sea salt in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal knife. Pulse twice to combine. Remove the processor cover, and scatter the butter over the flour mixture. Pulse several times to cut the butter into pea-sized pieces. Lightly beat the egg yolk and ice water together in a small measuring cup. With the processor running, add egg and ice water mixture. Stop the machine and pulse until the dough looks crumbly. Drop the dough into a pile on the work surface. Use the heel of your hand to smear the dough across the work surface 3 or 4 times, until dough can be formed into a cohesive mass. You will still see bits of butter. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate it for 20-30 minutes.


Variation: add teaspoon each of freshly ground black pepper and ground cloves to the flour mixture and ½ teaspoon of vanilla extract to the egg and ice water mixture.



Peeling Pears


Meanwhile prepare the pears. Peel them, taking care to leave the stem intact. Remove and discard about ½ inch of the core from the bottom of each pear. Place the pears on the counter to check that they can stand up. If not, trim the bottom of the pear so that they will stand up. If they have a bit of a lean or a sway, that is fine. It is called character, not a defect. Drizzle lemon juice over the pears to prevent browning (oxidation.) Place the pears in the refrigerator.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator 10 minutes before rolling. Lightly flour a work surface and rolling pin. Roll the dough to 1/8-inch thickness. (If, after rolling, the dough has become very soft, transfer it to a parchment lined baking sheet and refrigerate for 10 minutes.)

Lightly butter or line a baking sheet with a Silpat mat, and clear a space large enough to accommodate the baking sheet in the refrigerator. (You will be placing the pears on the sheet in the refrigerator. It pays to have the space ready.) Set the baking sheet aside. In a small bowl lightly beat the egg and heavy cream to make a glaze. Set aside.

Remove the pears from the refrigerator and pat dry.


Prep Pastry with hole


Cut a round or rectangle of dough large enough to cover the pears, about 6 to 8 inches across, depending on the size and height of each pear. Cut a small hole in the center of the dough, using the tip of a pastry tube or paring knife.


Pastry Cloaked Pears


Lift the dough and drape it over the pear, sliding the stem through the hole in the center of the pastry. Pleat the dough 3 or 4 times, pressing it gently against the outline of the pear. Gather the dough, folding and tucking it beneath the pear, and place the pear on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pear.


Pastry Leaves


Cut small pastry leaves, 2 or 3 per pear, using a leaf cutter or paring knife. Draw veins on the top of the leaves.


Pears in Pastry with Leaves



Use a pastry brush to paint the pears with the glaze. Position 2 leaves against each pear near the stem, vein sides visible. Paint the leaves with the glaze. Place the baking sheet with the pears in the refrigerator for thirty minutes.


Adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. If using puff pastry, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.





Finishing Pears in Pastry with Leaves


After thirty minutes, remove the pears from the refrigerator, and paint both pears and leaves again with egg glaze.


Baked-Pears in Pastry


Bake on the center rack until golden, about 35-40 minutes.

Pour the caramel sauce on serving plate. Place a warm pear atop the sauce and serve, adding vanilla ice cream and edible gold leaf (see Cook’s Notes below), if desired.


Caramel Sauces

Any of these sauces are wonderful served with the pears. There are a few caveats about making caramel. The first is be careful. Get the kids and pets out of the kitchen. The sugar mixture will rise to well over 300 degrees F. Pay attention and do not leave the pan unattended. Have a bowl of ice water nearby and plunge your hand into it should you be splashed with hot caramel.

Sugar has a tendency to crystallize, and so it is important to use gentle heat to dissolve the sugar completely before turning up the heat and bringing the liquid to a boil. If you want some extra insurance against crystallization, add 2 tablespoons of corn syrup along with the water used to dissolve the sugar. Avoid splashing the water and sugar solution on the sides of the pan. Any sugar that hits the sides will crystallize and in turn form more crystals. Use a pastry brush dipped in water to wash down any crystals that form.

Be certain the cream you add is warm. Add it slowly at first. It will bubble up, but once the caramel cools a bit, the bubbling will stop. If the caramel hardens or partially thickens when you add the cream, place the pan over a low flame and stir gently. The caramel will soften, and the cream will blend.

The sauce may be cooled and stored 1 week, well covered in the refrigerator. To soften and warm refrigerated sauce before use make a bain marie by bringing an inch or two of water to a very gentle simmer in a skillet or low-sided saucepan. Place the caramel, in a heatproof bowl, in the simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until the caramel sauce has warmed and thinned. Avoid sloshing any water into the bowl of caramel. You may also heat the sauce on low power in a microwave, 15-30 seconds at a time, checking frequently.


Pears in Pastry with Caramel Sauce


Simple Caramel Sauce

½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons corn syrup (optional)
½ cup heavy cream, at warm room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into 4 pieces

Pour the granulated sugar into a 4-quart heavy bottom saucepan with high sides. Add the water (and corn syrup if using.) Stir gently with a heat-proof spatula to combine, being careful not to splash the sides of the pan. Heat over medium until the sugar has completely dissolved, giving an occasional gentle stir. Once the sugar has dissolved completely, increase the heat to medium high and bring it to a boil. Continue cooking, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar has taken on an amber color. Some spots in the pan will color before others. Gently swirl the pan to mix and even out the color. Cook about 7 to 8 minutes, until the mixture takes on a deep amber color and just begins to smoke. Remove the pan from the heat. Slowly add the warm cream, stirring with a long-handled spatula. Add the butter and combine well. Transfer to a heatproof bowl or measuring cup to cool slightly.

Chocolate Caramel Sauce

Make the sauce as above. Add 2 ounces of chopped 71% chocolate along with the butter, blending well.


Pears in Pastry with Spiced Caramel Sauce


Spiced Caramel Sauce

½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons light corn syrup (optional)
½ cup heavy cream, at warm room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut in 2 pieces, at room temperature
2 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
vanilla bean, split seeds scraped
5 black peppercorns
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of ground cloves

Pour the granulated sugar into a 4-quart heavy bottom saucepan with high sides. Add the water (and corn syrup, if using.) Stir gently with a heat-proof spatula to combine, being careful not to splash the sides of the pan. Heat over medium heat until sugar has dissolved completely, giving an occasional gentle stir. Carefully add the cinnamon sticks, star anise and split vanilla bean with its scraped seeds into the saucepan. Increase the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil. Continue cooking, swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar has taken on an amber color. Some spots in the pan will color before others. Gently swirl to mix. Cook about 7 to 8 minutes, until the mixture is a deep amber color and has just begun to smoke. Remove the pan from the heat. Very carefully add the warm cream, stirring with a long-handled spatula. Add the butter and stir well. Add the ground nutmeg, ginger and cloves. Combine well. Scrape any remaining seeds from the vanilla bean into the Spiced Caramel and combine. Store the caramel, tightly covered, with the whole spices and vanilla bean up to 1 week in the refrigerator. The longer the spices rest in the caramel, the more flavor they will impart. Serve the Spiced Caramel Sauce with or without the whole spices.


Pears in Pastry with Gold Leaf and Ice Cream


Gold FlakesCook’s notes: If you’re asking “So what’s Italian about this anyway?” The answer is – the gold. It comes from Italy. To use gold leaf in food or beverages, you must purchase food grade edible gold leaf. It is supplied either in rectangular sheets, small pieces known as petals or in small sprinkles, also called flakes. Sheets and petals are supplied in boxes, and are best handled with wooden tweezers or sticks or fine paint brushes. Sprinkles (flakes) are supplied in small shakers. I use FRM brand gold, 23 karat. Edible gold leaf, an inert substance is available at many baking supply stores and FancyFlours.com.



Pears High Shot


Note: You can click on any picture for a larger image, and to see a slide show with even more pictures!

I have no affiliation with any product, manufacturer, or site mentioned in this article.

Gold Petals

Baked Pear in Pastry

86 Comments

  1. Comment by Roz:

    This is such a spectacular recipe Adri…beautiful, delicious, special! Your photography is exceptional and the imported edible gold from Italy is well, over-the-top fabulous! The caramel sauce is a wonderful too! Great post!

  2. Comment by Karen Harris:

    What an exquisite recipe. I have some little leaf stamps like yours. I love them. I can’t wait to give this beautiful recipe a try sometime. Happy New Year!

  3. Comment by Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen:

    What an incredibly beautiful presentation!

  4. Comment by Maurizia Le Ricette del Pozzo Bianco:

    Bellissima ricetta…… buon 2014!
    Maurizia

  5. Comment by Alessandra (DinnerinVenice):

    I love the cut outs! So darling!

  6. Comment by Zonzolando:

    Fantastica ricetta!! Approfitto anche per farti i miei migliori auguri per delle feste strepitose! Un abbraccio forte!

  7. Comment by ATasteOfMadness:

    I have always wanted to make these! Yours looks fabulous!

  8. Comment by Ilaria:

    Really fantastic!!!!
    I wish you a Merry Christmas!!!

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hi Ilaria,

      Thank you so much. This one just seems so right for this time of year. I often I poach them or put them in tarts, but baked inside of pastry they’re so very elegant. I wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  9. Comment by ela@GrayApron:

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year :) ela

  10. Comment by Karen (Back Road Journal):

    The pears are a work of art and would be wonderful with any of the sauces. Love your tip about using the corn syrup…wish I have known this a long time ago. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

  11. Comment by Stacy | Wicked Good Kitchen:

    Beautiful pears in pastry, Adri! I just adore caramel sauce and could eat an entire pot of it with a spoon. The perfect winter dessert indulgence! Thanks for sharing, girl!

  12. Comment by Pam @ MyNewlywedCookingAdventures:

    This is exquisite! We just received a gift box of 6 lovely pears from Harry & David’s in Oregon. I think I will try this for Xmas or Xmas Eve dessert! Not sure about if I can find the gold leaf in time but still so beautiful even without.

    • Comment by Adri:

      Greetings Pam!

      This would be divine for Christmas. If you are an Amazon Prime member (click HERE to see Edible Gold Leaf at Amazon), you can get the gold leaf in 2 days! Even without the gold leaf, this would be marvelous. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  13. Comment by GreenHolidayItaly:

    Adri, it is a masterpiece!!! Thank you for sharing!

  14. Comment by ela@GrayApron:

    Some pear-masterpieces you made there! Delicious ideas. :) ela

  15. Comment by Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella:

    What an elegant dessert indeed! I love the idea of making pretty patterns with the pastry too! :D

  16. Comment by Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen:

    Pears wrapped in pastry is a classic and one of the best desserts in the whole world. Your sauce really takes it over the top and so does your elegant presentation. Love this post. It inspires me to give this a try. I’ve always been leery of wrapping the pastry (fear of failure actually), but you’ve given such excellent tips and instructions. Bravo.
    Sam

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hi Sam,

      You are so right about this being a classic. Maybe one of the reasons why this one endures is that it comes together surprisingly easily. The pastry is truly forgiving, and the pear, once baked is tender and sweet, a perfect match for the pastry. This dessert is, as they say, greater than the sum of its parts. I am truly flattered that my article has inspired you to try this. Thank you very much for telling me. I have no doubt you will produce a beautiful dessert, one you will be proud to serve to your family and guests. Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  17. Comment by Maureen | Orgasmic Chef:

    Holy cow these are gorgeous! I’ve made American southern apple dumplings which are similar but I’m dying to give these a try. Those cutters are fantastic. Nothing like that down here, sadly. How easy is that to make the leaves.

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hi Maureen,

      Thank you so much for the kind words – I adore these little cutters. I purchased them at Williams-Sonoma. They have some Christmas ones now – trees and a sleigh, but these were in the stores at Thanksgiving time. Check out their sale page-maybe you will get lucky! Merry Christmas to you and yours!

  18. Comment by John@Kitchen Riffs:

    Wow,this is gorgeous! Not to mention spectacular – this looks so great. Lovely recipe – thanks so much. Hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

  19. Comment by Trix:

    Goodness, those are beautiful! You have a delicate touch and a patience that I lack. Brava!

  20. Comment by Angie@Angie's Recipes:

    They look so beautiful and elegant! Love those leaf cutters too.

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hi Angie,

      Thank you. I love this dessert. I just can’t tell you how much mileage i have gotten out of the leaf cutters. I started using them at Thanksgiving, and I have not stopped. They are pretty spiffy. Thanks for stopping by. Buone feste!

  21. Comment by Frank @Memorie di Angelina:

    Very elegant indeed, Adri! And they actually don’t look too terribly hard to make.

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hi Frank,

      Aren’t pears wonderful? This is such an elegant way to prepare them, and you are correct in thinking it is not hard to do. I hope you give it a try. This one is so nice for a holiday dinner. Bone feste!

  22. Comment by Mister Meatball:

    Beautiful!

    Buon Natale!

  23. Comment by mozzarellamamma@gmail.com:

    Gorgeous as usual Adri. I love your leaf and vine cutters — so pretty, and I am sure they are delicious too. Have a wonderful holiday and enjoy all those yummy things you are cooking up. I love just looking at them.

  24. Comment by Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti:

    This looks like such a exquisite dessert, Adri! Adding the flakes of gold leaf to the sauce brings it over the top in elegance. It would be perfect for a New Year’s Eve dinner party!

  25. Comment by Marie:

    P.S. I love your header and your snowflakes it’s fun and festive!

  26. Comment by Marie:

    Guess what I got yesterday? 6 pears from Harry and David! They’re not quite ripe yet though. I think I will try it with the puff pastry, which one did you prefer Adri? I love the thought of your spiced caramel, you got me at peppercorns! Beautiful elegant dessert, just beautiful!

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hi Marie,

      Hey what is this? Everyone is getting Harry & David Pears except me! Harumph! Aren’t they the most magnificent pears ever? About the pastry, I prefer the classic sweet version. I really think it has more flavor than most storebought puff pastry. I hope you enjoy this. The spices really are nice, and you can up them if you like. I’m glad you like the header – we had fun putting together our little scene. Buone feste a te e la tua famiglia!

  27. Comment by sippitysup:

    Il est tellement glamour, tante Marie! GREG

  28. Comment by Glamorous Glutton:

    These are so pretty, perfect for a festive dinner. I love the sound of the spiced caramel sauce, it can be used on so many things. Btw, your Christmas header is really pretty. GG

  29. Comment by Lizzy (Good Things):

    Oh my goodness, Adri, this is so beautiful! I am so impressed by your pastry making skills! Your pears look delicious… and I adore them with caramel. Incidentally, did you know that the skin of pear contains natural aspirin?!

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hi Lizzy,

      I am so pleased to hear you like this one, and thank you for the kind words. I am quite unaware of this aspirin-like property of the skin of pears. How fascinating. I love learning tidbits like that. Thanks for the enlightenment. Best holiday wishes to you and yours!

  30. Comment by EmilyC:

    Love your blog. Will explore further! Thanks for the visit!

  31. Comment by Foodiewife:

    First, I like the snowflakes! I don’ find them distracting at all. I loved these pears when you first posted them. I really do hope that I finally try this. I have those same little leaf cutters, and HATED them the one time I used them. The dough stuck. But, I think it’s me. I was too impatient, and probably should have floured them more. I’m going to try, and you know that if I do, I’ll let you know.

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hi,

      Thank for the vote of snowflake confidence! Oh, do try this. I can’t wait to hear what you think. And yes, do flour those little cutters. It makes a big difference. I always shied away from tools like that. I always figured it was one more gimmicky thing, but I am really pleased that I got them. I have gotten a ton of mileage out of them. Merry Christmas!

  32. Comment by belini:

    They are a thing of beauty with or without gold leaf and caramel sauce.

    • Comment by Adri:

      Greetings, Val!

      Thank you for the kind words. These pears in pastry have been around forever, yet they never seem old. This one is a classic, no doubt about it! Merry Christmas to you!

  33. Comment by amy @ fearless homemaker:

    These sound SO wonderful. What a perfect, delicious dessert for the holiday season!

  34. Comment by Cathy at Wives with Knives:

    I love to serve a very special dessert on New Year’s Eve and I think this would be perfect. I always look for recipes that I can prepare ahead, at least part of it. Pears are one of my favorite fruits especially when wrapped in pastry and drizzled with caramel sauce. Happy Holiday best wishes to you and your family, Adri.

    • Comment by Adri:

      Hi Cathy,

      I am pleased to hear this one caught your eye. Pears are so elegant, aren’t they? Roasted, poached or baked in a tart, you name it, they always make a wonderful dessert. Have a wonderful holiday season!

  35. Comment by Speedy70:

    Sono perfette e golose complimenti !!!r

  36. Comment by Ciao Chow Linda:

    Well, Adri, you’ve just given me my New Year’s Eve dessert. And I just got a box of pears from Harry & David’s. These look divine. Do you have a good source for gold leaf? Love the spiced caramel sauce (and the snowflakes too).

  37. Comment by Deb:

    The gold is echoed by the sumptuous pears. Truly, a dessert fitting for the New Year!

  38. Comment by Laney (Ortensia Blu):

    Seriously…this is gorgeous dessert Adri! The leaf cutouts are fabulous…and the gold-wow!(but I would have to REALLY like the people I serve it to) Love the snowflakes:)

  39. Comment by LA_Foodie:

    What great pictures. If only I could make mine look so good. I was wondering: What if I cored the pears, leaving them whole, but filling the center with dark chocolate. Do you think it would run out when it was baked… Maybe, I could put a piece of pastry on the bottom to hold it in… All things go better with dark choc. Inspiring work.

    • Comment by Adri:

      Ciao Foodie!

      Thanks for the kind words. I have a great teacher in my husband Bart, and for Christmas he gave me a new camera – a little early, but that was OK by me. About the chocolate – it sounds like a fab idea. You’d have to be sure no chocolate escaped out the bottom of the pears as they bake. So I’d suggest coring the pears carefully,leaving a bit of core at the bottom. Fill the center with chocolate, and then replace the top part of the core(s), with the stem(s) attached. In fact, Foodie, I may have to try this myself!

  40. Comment by Ash-foodfashionparty:

    Such a gorgeous looking dessert, fancy and simple.
    I fell in love with the page, the snowflakes are so festive. Happy Holidays.

  41. Comment by Rosa:

    So prettily decorated! This is one great dessert idea. Very festive and surely divine.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  42. Comment by Chiara:

    adoro le pere e presentate così sono veramente irresistibili ! Buona settimana Adri, un bacione !

  43. Comment by Jovina Coughlin:

    What a beautiful dessert you created.

  44. Comment by lisaiscooking:

    The pastry-wrapped pears look so great! And, I can never resist caramel sauce.

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