Heavenly Pear and Hazelnut Galette
This is a truly delightful dessert, suitable for dinner parties and holiday events. If preferred, you can use almonds instead of hazelnuts… and you can use the remaining syrup into an aperitif with the addition of lemon and orange juice, topped up with champagne.
Note: If you need this to be gluten-free, look for Gee-Free frozen puff pastry at WholeFoods or online. That is the only gluten-free puff pastry I’ve found so far.
Prep time is an hour; baking time is 40 minutes total; this recipe serves 10, depending.
8 pears: Comice, Conference or William are the best varieties
Juice of three lemons
8 oz puff pastry (I use good quality frozen puff pastry)
2 Tbsp caster (fine granulated) sugar
3 Tbsp redcurrant, medlar, or crab apple jelly for garnish before serving
For the syrup
1 quart water
350ml white wine
One vanilla pod, split, the seeds scraped and set aside for the filling
Two fresh bay leaves
10 black peppercorns
Peel of one lemon in strips, as for a martini
For the frangipane filling
8 oz hazelnuts, roasted and peeled plus another ounce to be reserved for later
8 oz (two sticks) unsalted butter, softened – or two sticks Earth Balance vegan spread
4 oz caster sugar, or organic light brown sugar, or Lakanto/erithrytol
2 medium eggs
Vanilla seeds, reserved from the pod (see above)
1. First, prepare the poaching syrup. Put all the syrup ingredients into a heavy-bottomed pan. Place this on high heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer 1-2 minutes, then it keep warm until you need it.
2. Peel the pears. Add the juice of 2 lemons to a bowl. Roll each peeled pear in the lemon juice to prevent any discoloration. Once all are done, put each pear and any lemon juice still in the bowl into the syrup. Return the pot to the boil, then lower the heat until the pan is simmering. Cut a generous disc of silicone paper and place it over the pears so that none bob upon the surface, so that they cook evenly. A plate over the paper might help, keeping a eye on it so that the plate doesn’t not slip beneath the surface. Pears cook differently depending on their ripeness and size. They will certainly take at least 40 minutes on a gentle simmer, requiring a check every few minutes thereafter. The first stage is that the pears will become translucent. Insert a sharp knife; the pears are cooked when the flesh parts easily.
3. Once cooked, let the pears cool in the syrup. Once cooled, remove the plate, but keep the silicone paper on top. The pears will keep well for several days and even benefit from a lengthy soak in the syrup.
4. Meanwhile, make the frangipane. Toast whole hazelnuts for ten minutes in a medium oven, about 300°F. Rub off the hulls with gloved hands. Process the hazelnuts in a food processor or NutriBullet, and set aside. Reserve an ounce for garnish later.
5. Beat the softened butter or vegan spread with the sugar, preferably using a kitchen mixer, until it grows lighter. Crack the eggs into a cup and beat well with a fork. Reduce the speed of the mixer, then add the egg to the bowl in a slow, steady stream. Once thoroughly combined, add the chopped hazelnuts and vanilla seeds reserved from making the syrup. Stir this well, cover the bowl, and refrigerate until you’re ready to assemble the galette.
6. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove the pears from the syrup. Cut each pear in half, then remove the core and cut in half again. Repeat until you have a heap of quartered pears.
7. Line a large baking sheet with parchment. Lightly dust a cool work surface with flour. Begin rolling out the puff pastry, bearing in mind the shape and size of your baking sheet. During the final few rolls, strew the pastry with the caster sugar and finish rolling out, crushing the sugar into the pastry.
8. Transfer the pastry to the baking sheet – the easiest way being to roll the pastry on to the rolling pin and then unravel it on to the baking sheet.
9. Scoop out spoonfuls of the frangipane and dot evenly over the pastry, keeping a good inch border at the edges; this will rise on baking and prevent any escape of the filling. Lay the quarters of pear over the frangipane in a star or spiral pattern.
10. Slide the prepared galette on its baking sheet into the oven. Turn the heat down to 350°F and cook for 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Reduce the heat further to 300°F and cook for a further 30-35 minutes, or until bronzed.
11. When the galette has cooled somewhat, warm the fruit jelly with the juice of the remaining lemon. When melted and smooth, brush this over the galette and strew with the remaining chopped hazelnuts. Serve warm with very thick cream – or whipped cream.
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