Category Archives: pear

Pear Pastry Braid

Pear Pastry BraidIt’s almost time for pie. Almost.

Yes, I know it’s November now, but I can’t just switch from Popcorn Balls to Pumpkin Pie on a dime. And truthfully, I’ve been concentrating too hard on the World Series and anticipating the new Scorsese film this week to fully get down to business with Thanksgiving. Rest assured though that the pies are coming. Sides, too! But first, this Pear Pastry Braid.Pear Pastry BraidI mean, do you see this beautiful thing? Is it brunch food? Is it dessert? I don’t know. I don’t make the rules. I just make the pastry.Pear Pastry BraidAnd oh, is this a good one. Pear Pastry Braid is super buttery and filled with tender pears that have been tossed with ginger, lemon, and a few tablespoons of sugar. Yum!Pear Pastry BraidDon’t let these glamour shots deceive you–it’s surprisingly easy to make. Simply roll out a sheet of rough puff pastry (or the frozen thawed all-butter stuff), make a bunch of diagonal cuts down both long sides and fill the center with sliced pear filling.Pear Pastry BraidPear Pastry BraidAlternating sides, carefully cover the filling with overlapping strips of dough, producing a braid-like appearance. Give it a brush of egg wash and a sprinkle of sugar, and then let it bake til golden.Pear Pastry BraidSounds like a lot, but the time from when you start peeling pears to when you pull the finished pastry out of the oven is less than an hour. It can be sliced and served warm too, meaning that you don’t have to plan crazy far in advance (especially if you already have the pastry dough in the fridge). There’s so much planning around food this time of year that it’s kind of nice to have something you can make when the mood strikes or when someone says they’re going to pop by.Pear Pastry BraidYou know what else is nice? Eating a slice of sweet, flaky Pear Pastry Braid in your pajamas on a Saturday morning. Or a Saturday night. Or both.

What?! I don’t make the rules. I just make the pastry.Pear Pastry Braid

Pear Pastry Braid
makes 1 braid, about 6 servings

Rough Puff Pastry:*
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
5 ounces unsalted European-style butter, very cold, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup water or milk, very cold

Pear Filling:
4 medium firm-ripe pears
5 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water

Make Rough Puff Pastry. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut butter into dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Pour in cold water or milk and stir with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Turn dough out onto surface, and use your hands to pat it into a rough rectangle. Roll the dough into an 8×10″ rectangle. Fold dough in thirds, and give it one quarter turn. Roll into an 8×10″ rectangle again, fold, and turn. Repeat rolling, folding, and turning until it has been done six times total. Wrap folded dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour, or up to 48 hours.

Make the pear filling. Peel the pears with a vegetable peeler. Working with one pear at a time, use a large, sharp chef’s knife to trim off both ends. Slice down through the stem end to halve the pear lengthwise. Use a small spoon to scoop out the seeds. Slice the pear as thinly as you can.

Place sliced pear pieces in a medium mixing bowl. Toss with 4 tablespoons sugar, ground ginger, salt, and lemon juice. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a half-sheet baking pan with parchment paper.

Assemble the pastry braid. Flour a rolling pin. Unfold dough on the prepared pan. Roll dough out to 12×16-inch rectangle. Orient the pan/rectangle so that the side nearest you is a short side.

Carefully dust the edge of a sharp knife with flour. Cut off two small corners of dough on the edge furthest from you. Leaving a 4×16-inch space in the center for the filling, cut 1-inch diagonal strips strips down both sides of the pastry, as pictured in the post.

Fill the pastry braid. Leaving 1/2-inch of space at each short end, mound pear filling along the center (intact) section of dough. Make sure to leave any accumulated liquid behind in the bowl. Dot filling with butter.

“Braid” the dough. Starting at the edge furthest from you, take a strip of dough and carefully lay it across the filling. Then grab a strip of dough from the right side and carefully lay it over the filling so that it is overlapping the first strip. Continue doing this, alternating left and right until you reach the end of the braid. Fold the short edges up slightly to seal.

Make the egg wash. Combine egg and water in a small bowl and whisk together with a fork.

Paint egg wash over all exposed pastry. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake pastry braid for 25-30 minutes, or until pastry is golden and pears are tender.

Let pastry braid cool on its pan on a rack. When you can handle it (I could at 30 minutes, although it was still warm), very carefully slip your hands palm-side-up under the pastry and quickly lift it onto a large cutting board or serving tray. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice it into pieces. Serve immediately.

Pear Pastry Braid is best the day it is made.

Note:

You may use frozen all-butter puff pastry instead. Thaw according to package directions and begin the recipe at the paragraph that begins “Make the pear filling.”Pear Pastry BraidPear Pastry BraidPear Pastry Braid

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerOn any other day, I would probably go on and on about how how I prefer my chocolate desserts to be all chocolate and my fruit desserts to be just fruit, but for right now, I must say otherwise. And even if I were feeling that way this particular Wednesday, I’d be hard-pressed to get the words out, what with shoveling bites of warm Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger into my face.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerAs far as late-January desserts go, this is about as good as it gets. I mean, when it comes to warm, soft pieces of pear, bits of melty chocolate and crunchy oat topping with two kinds of ginger, what’s not to love?!

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerBeyond being delicious, this crisp is wonderfully easy to make. If you are at all intimidated by making pie from scratch, this is the dessert for you. There’s no finicky dough or chilling or crimping, and definitely no lengthy cooling time. In fact, the whole process of making a crisp takes one hour, as opposed to the three or four (or more!) that it takes to make and cool a fruit pie.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerTo start, pears are peeled, diced, and tossed with sugar, cornstarch, ground ginger, and lemon.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerChocolate chips are scattered over the top.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerThe crisp topping is made from oats, flour, light brown sugar, chopped almonds, and both ground and candied ginger. Oh, and butter.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerScatter the topping over the fruit, being careful to cover most of the chocolate. This will keep it from overcooking.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerBake the crisp for half an hour and let it cool for ten minutes.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerPear Crisp with Chocolate & GingerWhile it’s warm, scoop it into bowls and top it with vanilla ice cream. The recipe says this addition is only “if desired,” but I like to think of it as mandatory.Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger

It really should be.Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger
makes one 8-inch dish, about 6 servings

Filling:
4 medium firm-ripe Bosc pears
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Topping:
1/3 cup old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons candied ginger, minced
3 tablespoons chopped raw almonds (optional)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For Serving:
vanilla ice cream, optional

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch casserole dish with butter. Set aside.

Peel and core pears. Cut them into 1-inch chunks and place in a medium-large mixing bowl. add sugar, cornstarch, ginger, salt, and lemon juice. Transfer to the prepared baking dish and scatter chocolate chips over the top.

Make the topping. In a medium mixing bowl, combine oats, flour, light brown sugar, ground ginger, salt, minced candies ginger, and chopped raw almonds. Stir together with a fork. Add melted butter and stir until everything is saturated and clumps form. Scatter topping onto the pears and chocolate.

Bake 28-30 minutes, until topping is browned and pears are tender. Tent with foil if anything browns too quickly.

Let cool 10 minutes before serving in bowls with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Cover and refrigerate any leftovers, reheating before serving.

Pear Crisp with Chocolate & Ginger