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Pears in Puff Pastry (Feuilleté de Poires)

Pears in Puff Pastry (Feuilleté de Poires)
The pear halves look beautiful framed in their puff pastry casings. These pastries are usually served with a custard, often one perfumed with lavender (see related recipe at left).

Ingredients:

  • 3 pears, with stems intact
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 cups plus 3 Tbs. water
  • 3 Tbs. sweet white wine
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 6 tsp. marzipan or 6 pitted dates or prunes
     (optional)
  • 3/4 lb. puff pastry, homemade (see related
     recipe at left) or purchased
  • 1 egg, beaten with 1 Tbs. milk
  • 1/4 cup apricot jam

Directions:

Peel the pears, leaving the stems intact.

In a saucepan large enough to hold the pears snugly, combine the sugar, the 4 cups water, the wine and vanilla bean. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the pears, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the pears are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Let the pears cool in the liquid, then transfer to paper towels to drain well. Split each pear in half lengthwise, splitting the stem, if possible. Remove the cores gently without disturbing the stems. Place 1 tsp. of the marzipan or a date in the hollow left in each pear half.

Make a template by tracing a pear half, including its stem, on a piece of cardboard. Cut out the shape, leaving an extra 3/4 inch outside the tracing.

Preheat an oven to 400°F.

On a floured work surface, roll out the puff pastry into a large rectangle no more than 1/8 inch thick. Using the template, cut out 6 pieces of pastry and transfer to 2 ungreased baking sheets. Dry the pear halves well on paper towels and place a pear half, rounded side up, in the center of each piece of pastry. Brush the exposed pastry edges with the egg-milk mixture. Place 1 sheet in the oven and bake, rotating the sheet 180 degrees after 15 minutes to ensure even coloration, until the pastry is puffed up and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan over low heat, combine the apricot jam and the 3 Tbs. water. Cook, stirring constantly, until the jam dissolves.

Remove the pastries from the oven, slide onto a wire rack and brush with half of the apricot glaze. Repeat the process with the second baking sheet of pastries. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Provence, by Diane Holuigue (Time-Life Books, 2002).