Thursday, May 7, 2009

Pear-ish the thought....

I must be in a competitive mood lately because I entered the USA Pears Student Culinary Competition. Culinary students must submit a recipe using pears along with a picture. It can be an appetizer, entree, salad, dessert, cocktail....whatever as long as it uses pears! Entries are judged on use of pears, originality, taste, texture, and appearance. First prize is $2500!

I created a dessert entry. I wanted to create a dessert with a simple presentation. I also love different textures in desserts so I created a trifle. After several batches of creme brulee and numerous tastings between myself, my roommate and Jack, I settled upon a trifle made of poached pears, raspberry compote, cinnamon spiced creme brulee, Poire William-soaked Financier cake, and candied pecans. (Hopefully that's not too many components! But I feel these are ingredients that are in your typical pastry kitchen). The top layer of creme brulee would be caramelized so you would have to crack the top to reach all the goodness down below. I added the raspberry compote because I felt the dessert lacked in tart flavor and to add color because with just the pears, cake, creme brulee and candied pecans, it was just brown with cream and more brown.

The contest required us to submit a photo so I had my friend Jack Coleman who is an awesome photographer help me out. We tried a couple of different set ups with various props and backgrounds. I think the striped background came out best. Hopefully the judges will like my dessert!

Top Burnt Chef, A Pear-fect Trifle
makes 4 individual trifles

Poached Pears:
2 firm Bartlett pears, peeled
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
½ vanilla bean
1 strip lemon zest (no white pith)
1 TBSP Poire William

Combine sugar, water, lemon zest and vanilla in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add pears and additional water if needed to submerge. Reduce heat, cover with parchment lid and simmer until pears are tender. Chill pears and liquid separately. Return pears to liquid, add Poire William and store.

Financier cake:
Cake Flour 65 g
Confectioner’s Sugar 185 g
Almond Flour 65 g
Egg whites 125 g
Browned butter 125 g

Combine cake flour, sugar, and almond flour. Whisk to combine. Stir in brown butter making sure there are no dry patches. Whip egg white to soft peaks. Stir in half egg whites until combined and batter is loosened up a bit. Fold in remaining egg whites. Spoon mixture into sprayed and parchment lined round cake pan. Bake at 340˚ until firm. Remove and cool on a wire rack.

Cinnamon-Spiced Crème Brulee
5 large yolks
12 oz cream
2 oz sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
2 cloves

Heat cream with cinnamon and cloves in a saucepan. After cream comes to a simmer, add sugar to yolks in a large bowl. Temper cream mixture into yolks. Transfer back to saucepan. Whisk over low heat until mixture starts to curdle. Remove cinnamon sticks and cloves. Buerre mix until smooth. Transfer to shallow container and refrigerate until cool.

Candied Pecans:
¼ cup Simple Syrup from poached pears
4 oz whole pecans

Combine in bowl. Place on silpat lined baking sheet and bake in oven until toasted. Cool.

Raspberry Coulis

Raspberries 7 oz
Sugar, granulated 3.5 oz
Water 1.33 oz
Lemon Juice .5 oz

Puree fruit in blender and pass through fine chinois. Warm in sauce pan.
Mix sugar and water and boil until 225˚. Add to fruit and bring to a boil. Simmer until thickened, should coat back of a spoon.

Strain and mix in lemon juice.

To assemble the trifle

Mix ¼ cup simple syrup from poached pears with 2 TBSP Poire William. Break up financier cake and soak with Poire William syrup. Place crème brulee and raspberry coulis in piping bags. Chop the candied pecans. Dice poached pears.

Lay a few small pieces of pear in the bottom of a small shot trifle glass. Cover with raspberry coulis. Pipe layer of crème brulee followed by a layer of financier cake and then the pecans. Top with pears, coulis and end with the crème. Sprinkle 1 TBSP sugar on top and caramelize with propane torch.

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