"Making your own puff pastry is an admirable achievement but at home it's much easier to purchase a good-quality puff such as Carême. If you have some of this in the freezer and any kind of nice fruit you can throw this together very easily."
- 180 gm caster sugar
- 180 gm butter, cut into 8 pieces
- 2 vanilla beans, halved lengthways
- 4 ripe firm pears such as Packham, Williams or small beurre Bosc, halved, cored and each studded with a clove
- 2 sheets butter puff pastry (375gm each)
- To serve: pouring cream and pure icing sugar
- 2½ tsp juniper berries
- 5 star anise
- 2 tsp cloves
- 1 tsp white peppercorns
- ½ tsp cardamom seeds
- 1 large cinnamon quill
- 1 small pinch saffron
- 2 tsp Murray River salt flakes
- 1For eight-spice powder, dry-roast ingredients (except salt) until fragrant (2-3 minutes). Transfer to a mortar and pestle and grind with salt until finely ground, set aside.
- 2Divide sugar between two 18cm-diameter cast-iron frying pans, divide butter cubes between pans, sprinkle each pan with 1 tsp eight-spice powder (reserve remainder for another use), then place halved vanilla bean in the centre in a cross. Place pear halves in pans cut-side up, cover with puff pastry, trim into a circle and firmly tuck in edges, then refrigerate to rest (15 minutes).
- 3Meanwhile, preheat oven to 190C. Score pastry in the centre and between each pear half, then cook over low-medium heat until sugar begins to caramelise (12-18 minutes). Carefully baste pastry with caramel, then transfer to oven and bake until pastry is golden and puffed, basting pastry halfway through cooking (15-20 minutes). Remove from oven, loosen edges with a knife, then carefully turn out onto a chopping board, cut into pieces, dust with icing sugar and serve hot with cream.
This recipe is from the April 2011 issue of .
Drink Suggestion: A Canadian ice wine or a passito-style dessert wine Drink suggestion by Elizabeth Fairweather