Pears love chocolate and dried plums, and this impressive do-ahead dessert does not disappoint.
- 2 cups (480ml) white wine
- 1 cup (240ml) water
- 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
- 1/2 orange, sliced
- 1/2 vanilla bean
- 3 cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon (1.25ml) ground cardamom
- 6 California pears, such as Bosc or Comice, peeled, with stems intact
- 12 pitted dried plums
- 1 (14-ounce/400g) frozen puff pastry, defrosted overnight in the refrigerator
- 3 1/2 ounces (100g) dark chocolate (60-70%), melted
- 1/3 cup (80ml) toasted hazelnuts, chopped
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) finely grated orange zest
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon (5ml) water
Combine the wine, water, sugar, orange, vanilla bean, cloves, and cardamom in a saucepan large enough to snugly fit the pears and dried plums. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Submerge the pears and dried plums in the liquid and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cover the pot and simmer until the pears are tender, but not mushy, when pierced with a skewer, 25 to 30 minutes, turning the pears occasionally to ensure even cooking.
Remove the pears and plums from the liquid and place in a baking dish. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve into a small saucepan; discard the solids.
Boil the cooking liquid until reduced to about 1 cup (240ml) and a syrup consistency, about 20 minutes. While the liquid is reducing, remove the cores of the pears from their base with a melon baller or small spoon. Pour the syrup over the pears and plums and cool to room temperature (or refrigerate for up to 2 days in advance of serving).
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C).
Cut 6 circles, with a diameter about 1-inch (2.5cm) greater than the diameter of the pears, from the puff pastry sheet and arrange on a baking tray lined with parchment. Prick the pastry in several places with a fork.
Remove the pears and plums from the syrup and reserve the syrup. Blot the pears dry with a paper towel and chop the dried plums. Combine the melted chocolate, hazelnuts, orange zest, and chopped dried plums in a small bowl and mix well.
Spoon the chocolate filling into the core of the pears, then spread a large spoonful of the remaining filling in the center of each pastry circle. Stand a pear on the fillings then lift and press the dough up to form a rim around the base of the pears and filling. Whisk the egg and water in a small bowl, then lightly brush the pastry with the egg wash.
Bake the pears until the pastry is puffed and golden, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and brush the pears with some of the reserved syrup. Serve with whipped cream.