The Advanced Professional Pastry Chef
Book Table of Contents
Excerpt from the unpublished Terminology volume
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The Advanced Professional Pastry Chef was published in early 2003.
Together with Fundamentals of Baking and Pastry, the
two-volume set offers complete coverage of all aspects of baking and pastry from beginning to advanced techniques.
As the title suggests, the second volume covers the more specialized segments such as holiday desserts, sugar work,
advanced chocolate work, modernistic plated desserts, advanced decorating techniques, marzipan modeling and wedding
Table of Contents
Chapter 1, Decorated Cakes
Chapter 2, Wedding Cakes
Chapter 3, Individual Pastries
Chapter 4, Plated Desserts
Chapter 5, Frozen Desserts
Chapter 6, Light and Low-Calorie Desserts
Chapter 7, Charlottes, Bavarian Creams, Mousses and Soufflés
Chapter 8, Modernist Desserts
Chapter 9, Holiday Classics and Favorites
Chapter 10, Chocolate Artistry
Chapter 11, Sugarwork
Chapter 12, Marzipan Modeling
Chapter 13, Advanced Decorations
Chapter 14, Basic Recipes
Date-Stuffed Saffron Poached Pears with Chardonnay Wine Sauce
Yield: 12 servings
This recipe evolved from Saffron Poached Pears with Almond Ice Cream. In this presentation, rather than cutting each pear in half after poaching, the pears are left whole, the cores are removed, and the cavity is filled with a soft fresh date. In both recipes the stately Bosc pear, with its distinctive long and elegant curved stem, is the pear of choice.
Pears, and other types of fruit, are poached to change the texture of the fruit (to cook it so it becomes more tender), add flavor, and/or enhance color (such as when fruit is poached in red wine). In many cases, including this recipe, the poaching step accomplishes all three objectives.
When most people think of pears poached in wine, they picture the classic rendition that utilizes red wine, often port, flavored with cinnamon and vanilla as the poaching medium. After cooking the pears, the delicious fruit and spice infused wine is usually reduced to a syrupy consistency and served as a sauce. Ruby Port Poached Pears with Verbena Bavarois and Port Wine Reduction is an example of this traditional technique. The same application is also popular for whole figs (see Crème Catalan with Poached Black Mission Figs).
Two things that make this recipe a bit different are the use of white wine and the inclusion of saffron, but the component that really stands out is the unusual and eye-catching strands of crisp kadaif phyllo dough draped over and around the top of the pear. The word kadaif; also spelled kataifi, is actually the name of a Middle Eastern dessert that includes these long, thin strands of pastry dough, however, both terms are also used to describe the dough itself, which is a form of phyllo dough. Like phyllo dough sheets, kadaif phyllo is usually sold frozen and care must be taken to keep it from drying out as you work with it. Packaged in bulk form, kadaif looks very much like dried Chinese rice noodles or coils of very thin dried pasta.
12 small Bosc pears, stem on
Saffron Poaching Liquid (recipe follows)
16 sheets phyllo dough
4 ounces (115 g) melted unsalted butter
12 whole fresh dates
Almond Filling (recipe follows)
1 recipe Chardonnay Wine Sauce (recipe follows)
Fresh almonds in the husk and/or small clusters of grapes for decorating (optional)
- Peel the pears, keeping the stems intact, and placing the fruit into acidulated water as you work to prevent oxidation. Transfer the pears to the saucepan with the saffron poaching liquid and bring to a simmer. Set a lid or plate that fits down inside the pan on top of the fruit to keep it submerged, placing a cloth towel or several layers of paper toweling between the lid and the fruit. Poach the pears until they are just cooked through and soft to the touch. Be careful not to overcook the fruit as it will be baked and served standing on end, and over poaching will cause it to lose shape or worse, fall apart. Remove the pan from the heat and set the pears aside (in the liquid), for a minimum of 6 hours or, preferably, refrigerate overnight to allow the pears to absorb the maximum amount of flavor and color from the liquid.
- Cut a round template 5 1/2 inches (13.7 cm) in diameter from cardboard or have a lid or plate of the same size handy. Unwrap and unroll the phyllo dough and cut the stacked phyllo sheets in half lengthwise. Cut across in thirds, dividing each sheet of dough into 6 pieces. Place the pieces in 2 stacks and cover 1 stack with a lightly dampened cloth. Place a piece from the remaining stack on the table in front of you. Brush some of the melted butter in a circle, 4 inches (10 cm) in diameter, in the center of the dough. Place a second piece of dough on top and brush butter on it in the same way. Continue layering and brushing with butter until you have used 8 pieces of phyllo. Do not butter the top of the stack.
- Place the template on top of the stack. Cut around the template with a paring knife and remove the scraps. Brush butter over the top layer of the circle. Carefully press the stack of dough into a small individual pie form that is 7 ounces (210 ml) in capacity and measures 4 1/2 inches in diameter across the top, 2 3/4 inches in diameter across the bottom, and 1 1/2 inches tall (11.2 x 6.8 x 3.7 cm). If the circle does not form an evenly fluted edge, shape it with your hands. Repeat to form the remaining 11 phyllo dough shells. Place the lined forms on two sheet pans. Discard any leftover phyllo scraps.
- Remove the pears from the poaching liquid and pat them dry with paper towels. Reserve the liquid for another use. Using the tip of a paring knife, make a horizontal cut beginning no more than 1/2 inch (1.2 cm) below the stem, cutting three-quarters of the way through each pear, leaving the stems attached. Cut just enough from the bottom of each pear to allow it to stand straight up. Push an apple corer up through the bottom of each pear, up to the horizontal cut, and remove the cores. If you do not have a corer, this step can be completed with a melon-ball cutter. In this case omit the horizontal cut and proceed with care.
- Make a cut lengthwise in each date and remove the pits. Push a date into each pear from the bottom. Stand the pears straight up. Using a paring knife, score vertical lines, about 3/8 inch (9 mm) apart, cutting from the bottom to the top of the pears, making softly curved cuts without cutting all the way through to the date. Wrap aluminum foil around the pear stems to keep the stems from becoming too dark as they bake.
- Place the almond filling in a pastry bag and pipe it into the phyllo shells, dividing it evenly. Place a pear in each shell and press it down firmly.
- Bake the pears at 400°F (205°) until the phyllo shells and the almond filling are both light golden brown, about 12 minutes. Lightly drape strands of kadaif phyllo dough over and around the pears as shown in the photograph; do not cover the pear stems. Return the pears to the oven until the kadaif is golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes longer.
- Presentation: Place a pastry in the center of a dessert plate. Spoon Chardonnay sauce, including and evenly spacing some of the whole grapes in the sauce, in an irregularly shaped ring around the dessert. The sauce should not touch the phyllo shell or the shell will become soggy. Sift powdered sugar over the dessert as well the surface of the plate. Garnish with fresh almonds or grape clusters if desired.
Saffron Poaching Liquid
Yield: 10 cups (1 L, 440 ml)
2 quarts (1 L, 920 ml) white wine
1/3 cup (80 ml) lemon juice
8 whole cloves
2 small cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon (5 ml) crushed saffron threads, loosely packed (see Note)
1 pound 8 ounces (680 g) granulated sugar
Note: You can vary the amount of saffron used to produce the desired intensity of both the color and flavor that it adds to the pears. The age of the saffron will also effect its potency.
- Combine all of the ingredients in a nonreactive saucepan large enough to accommodate the pears, and bring to a boil.
- Use as directed in the main recipe.
Yield: approximately 1 pound, 2 ounces (510 g)
6 ounces (170 g) almond paste
8 ounces (225 g) granulated sugar
4 egg whites (1/2 cup/120 ml)
- Combine the almond paste, granulated sugar, and 1 egg white, using the paddle attachment of the mixer or by hand with a spoon.
- When completely smooth add the remaining egg whites 1 at a time, again mixing until smooth after each addition to avoid lumps. The mixture should be fairly thin, almost runny. It is not possible to specify the exact number of egg whites needed as this varies depending on the texture of the almond paste.
Chardonnay Wine Sauce
Yield: approximately 2 cups (480 ml)
This sauce can also be made by replacing the Chardonnay with champagne.
2 cups (480 ml) Chardonnay wine
4 teaspoons (10 g) cornstarch
6 ounces (170 g) small green grapes, stemmed (see note 1)
6 ounces (170 g) granulated sugar
1/4 (60 ml) cup orange liqueur
Note 1: Preferably, try to use Chardonnay grapes since they are smaller than the more readily available table grapes. If you must use large grapes, cut the reserved grapes into slices before adding them to the syrup.
- Make a slurry by mixing 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the wine with the cornstarch; reserve.
- Rinse the grapes, reserve half of them, choosing the smaller ones depending on the variety (see note 1). Place the remaining wine, the remaining grapes, the sugar and the orange liqueur in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook over medium heat until the grapes split open, about 5 minutes.
- Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer, using a spoon to force as much juice out of the grapes as possible. Discard the solids in the strainer.
- Stir the reserved cornstarch slurry into the grape juice-wine mixture. Return to the heat and bring to a quick boil. You can, if you wish, test the viscosity at this point by placing a teaspoon of sauce in the refrigerator to chill and then bringing it back to room temperature: the puddle should hold its shape at room temperature. Adjust the consistency if necessary by cooking the sauce further to reduce it, or by adding more liquid (wine or Simple Syrup) if it is too thick.
- Stir in the reserved whole or sliced grapes. Cool and store in the refrigerator.
Note 2: If you do not plan to use up the sauce by the following day, add grapes only to the part you are using at the time since the grapes, not being cooked to preserve their green color and sugar acidity, if slice they will start to deteriorate the sauce.
Saffron is by far the most expensive of all spices. The saffron threads used for flavoring are the bright orange three-pronged stigmata, as well as a portion of the style that comes with it, of a small variety of purple crocuses. The fact that they can only be harvested by hand, and that it takes around 75,000 flowers to produce one pound of saffron, explains the high price. Several varieties of this spice grow wild in the Mediterranean area of Europe; however, true cultivated saffron can best be distinguished by its large, loosely hanging stigmata. Saffron has been used since ancient times; the Romans introduced it to Northern Europe. Later, in the eighth century, the Muslims brought it west to Spain, which today is the largest producer. Saffron is indispensable for making Spanish paella, French bouillabaisse, and Milanese risotto, and it is used to a great extent in Middle Eastern cuisine, as well as in a number of European baked specialties such as the traditional saffron buns and breads. Saffron should always be purchased as threads, since the ground form can be easily adulterated with other yellow to orange food colorings such as safflower and marigold petals or ground turmeric. Ground saffron also loses its aroma more quickly. Store saffron in an airtight container protected from light. It will keep for up to six months.
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