Michel Guérard's Caramelized Pear Puff Pastry with Williamine Cream

Credit: Mathilde de l'Ecotais

Michel Guérard is considered to be the inventor of “nouvelle cuisine” (new cuisine). He lightened classic French cooking, all the while respecting its ingredients and its traditions. This pastry is representative of his style, which is both rich and simplified.

Ingredients (10 servings)

Puff Pastry - Détrempe

Puff Pastry – Turning Butter

Making the Pastry

  • Egg wash (beaten egg)

Williamine Cream

Instructions

Step 1: Puff Pastry - Détrempe

The night before, make a détrempe by delicately combining the ingredients. The dough should remain relatively firm. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap, and allow to sit in the fridge.

Step 2: Puff Pastry – Turning Butter

Prepare the turning butter: knead the flour with the diced butter until you have an even mixture. Shape this mixture into a square, wrap in plastic wrap, and chill 30 minutes.

Roll the turning butter into a 40 cm long, 15 cm wide rectangle. Roll out the détrempe until it’s two-thirds as long as the turning butter, then place it on top of the butter, and do a simple turn (fold the entire thing symmetrically in three, like a wallet. Roll it out and fold it again in the same way. Allow to rest 4 hours, then do another double turn (refold the dough symmetrically in four, bringing each edge into the center twice.

Roll out and re-fold. Finish with a simple turn.

Allow to rest until ready to use.

Step 3: Making the Pastry

Divide the pastry into pieces. Roll them out with a rolling mill, setting 4, then cut out 10 x 10 cm squares using a very sharp knife to keep from crushing the dough.

Flip the squares over, and brush the surface with egg wash (keeping it from dripping, which might keep the pastry from rising correctly). Place the squares on a baking sheet. Place corks at the edges of the baking sheet, then cover with a rack. The corks will keep the rack from marking the pastry. Bake in a static oven at 220 °C until evenly browned. Cool and set aside on a rack.

Step 4: Williamine Cream

Make a pastry cream with the egg yolks, the milk, the custard powder, and the sugar. Once the cream is ready, season it with the Williamine, and ensure that it is smooth. Beat the cream and add the flavored pastry cream to it. Set aside.

Step 5: Pears

Make a light syrup by bringing the water and the sugar to a boil along with the split and scraped vanilla bean.

Peal the pears. Cut them in two and remove the core and the seeds.

Poach them in the syrup until tender. Drain and slice lengthwise, so that they can be arranged in a fan.

Step 6: Finishing and Plating

This dessert must be assembled at the last minute if you want to keep the contrasting crisp and tender textures.

Separate the pastry into two layers, and fill the inside with cream.

Replace the top, and place a half-pear on top. Sprinkle with superfine sugar. Caramelize the sugar with a torch. The caramel should cover the fruit and begin to drip over the edges of the dessert. Serve immediately.

This recipe was originally published in "Grand Livre de Cuisine Desserts" (Alain Ducasse Edition).