I went to the hairdresser the other day for the first time in more than a year, and, as is usually the case at such things, there’s inevitably a lot of sitting around and browsing through magazines. I saw a ridiculously tasty looking poached pear recipe and decided that I must try my hand at something in that universe, because we are on a pear binge, and I’m trying to slowly train Man-thing to think fruit is fun. Oh boy!
So far my biggest success has been getting him to eat slices of fruit with peanut butter on it, which is a huge leap forward for someone who whined like a little girl about nibbling on the edge of an apple slice not even two years ago. When he does eat it, however, he makes a big show and tells me about it if I wasn’t around to witness the miracle. He also grandly displays his lunch plate if there’s anything wild on there, like a gherkin, and preens over how well he’s doing now that he’s married. Honestly! :p I hardly think eating fruit a hardship (or being a vegan would be pretty depressing), but whatever gives him a kick, I guess!
I mean, he eats raw lemon and papaya tarlets with gusto, apple streusel coffee cakes (even though he “hates” apple cakes…and yet managed to eat a sizeable portion of these in one sitting!), and even fig and prune nut bars (for crying out loud! How much fruitier can it get?).
Anyway, there can’t be many things more fun than a baked fruit with hidden noms and pastry on top. Pastry is one of those evil things that I usually avoid, because if I had no self control I would devour an entire (vegan) pastry shop, probably licking the lifters and scrounging for crumbs. Sadly (and luckily) there are no such things in South Africa, because practically everything has animal products in it, supposedly for the umami factor. Man-thing loves pastries though – he will moan with pleasure if he’s anywhere within sight of a pastry and he knows he’s going to get a chance to eat it. When I make pies (very seldom) I get long speeches about how much he loves me (and I joke that it’s usually said in the presence of food, which statistically is true :p). With these powers combined, what can go wrong? Not much, thank goodness!
This is a pretty straight-forward dish if you have some time on your hands to faff around. I sometimes love these drawn-out cooking and baking expeditions – there’s still time between each step to drink your coffee or whatever, but you end up feeling mighty accomplished because there are different elements at play. Or perhaps it’s just me that gets that smug look at such things. Luckily I’ve progressed from being smug about making frozen stir-fry in a pan to making something like this, so that’s surely not too bad. 😀
Ingredients (serves 2)
- 2 medium pears, peeled and cored
- puff pastry (if you’ve got the time I really recommend my awesomesauce tofu puff pastry recipe!) – approx 100g defrosted
- soy milk for brushing on
- 1/8 cup whole pistachios, de-shelled and crushed (I can’t find plain pistachios anywhere, and the saltiness doesn’t detract from the dish at all!)
- 1/2 a Cherry Vanilla NuStevia dropper, or approx 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 2 heaped TBSP prune puree
- 1 TBSP carob powder
- 1/2 tsp blackstrap molasses (intensify to 1 tsp if you’re brave and like the taste
- 1/2 tsp NuNaturals Simple Syrup, or 1 TBSP agave syrup
- ginger, cinnamon + nutmeg
- 2 blocks Lindt 90% chocolate (or another dark vegan chocolate) – crushed with a mortar & pestle
- 1/2 tsp NuNaturals Simple Syrup
- 1/8 cup whole pistachios, de-shelled and crushed
- Peel your pears delicately and then shove a vegetable peeler up the bottom of the pear and wiggle it about in a circular fashion and scoop out the middle – use a teaspoon or other implement to get it out if it’s proving problematic. You can cut out a pretty nice inner chunk, since the filling is just as important as the outside tastiness. Be sure not to come out the top of the pear when you’re gutting it. I cut out a 1cm diameter circle of inner pear.
- If your pear is unsteady cut the base to be flat.
- Mix your filling together MINUS the pistachios, keep those on the side.
- You can probably pre-heat your oven now to 180C.
- Using a little plastic freezer bag (or a injector of sorts) spoon your filling into one bottom corner, twist it so it’s tight and cut off a small snip of the edge.
- Turn your pear upside down and squeeze out enough filling to fill half the middle of the pear. If need be take the back of a teaspoon and shove the filling a bit further.
- Sprinkle half your crushed pistachios, then fill up the rest with filling. Repeat on the other pear. You will probably have some filling left, depending on the size of your medium pear. I totally squished the rest straight into my mouth, because it’s fruit and carob, so very legit.
- Stab the pear a few times shallowly.
- Roll out your pastry nice and thin into a 18x10cm rectangle, and cut into strips 1cm in height and sufficient in length to go around the circumference of the pear.
- Starting at the bottom, wrap the strips around the pear, pinching when it meets. Work your way up to the top, leaving only the stem sticking out. Close the bottom with pastry so that the filling doesn’t spill out.
- Splash some cinnamon on the pear.
- With a pastry brush, brush on the soy milk over the pastry.
- Bake for 35-45 minutes until golden/crispy. My oven is broken so you might have to bake more/less – please start looking in your oven at 35 minutes!
- Melt the Lindt choc in the microwave with the Syrup for approx 30 seconds, stir til smooth, and pour it over your pears . Sprinkle on the rest of the pistachios and voila!
Seriously? HOMG! This is the bestest dessert thing I have made, hands down. Decadent, rich, glorious…gah! I only ate half my pear because I was so overwhelmed by the nom that I had to control myself from eating Man-thing’s portion as well.
No jokes, I rolled my eyes in pleasure and started muttering to myself about how good and delicious it was. I don’t often make noises and what not in the kitchen, other than little semi-silent shrieks of rage when the oven vexes me, but these were the awesome kind of noises that say, “gather round, all ye, and taste the bounty of the universe!”
Or just, GLOMP! NOM! GNASH! SLURP!
And isn’t it shiny? It’s also easy to make! I thought it would be an intense and heated process, but, other than the heat from the oven, my head didn’t explode with kitchen!rage as usually happens during pastry attempts.
And tasty? Fruit is fabulous! The pistachios just make this dish all the more layered and textured, which I love. I’m sure you could sub it for macadamias or some other species of nut, but pistachios are worth the price (because yeowch, I had to pep talk myself to put them in the basket!).
Man-thing’s reaction was that it was a “very fruity dessert”; i.e. he wasn’t crazy about it, but he did make a fuss about presentation & execution. He claimed that unfortunately I got saddled with a man that prefers his chocolate processed, if you can believe such a thing! He still dislikes fruity desserts, claiming to be a “malva pudding man”. *sad face* Point is, everyone’s different, and next time I’ll add some date caramel bits and more agave syrup for him, but I truly think it is the most sensational dish I’ve made in a while, and he insists I can serve it to “normal people” with confidence. :p
I think this would make such an awesome tea party treat instead of cake, fresh out the oven and still steaming, or as a post-dinner decadence. It doesn’t take much more work to make a dozen of these, and I am very sad I only made two. Luckily people have birthdays and other such nonsense, so I just need to scout the calender and innocently invite someone over and then feed them this for my own gratification. Not crazy at all! 😀