Sunday, 28 June 2009

Poached Pear and Marzipan Mille-feuille

150g ready-made white marzipan
A little icing sugar, for rolling and sweetening
200g granulated sugar
1 small lemon (juice, optional)
Bunch fresh basil, about 50g
4 large fairly firm pears, halved and stoned
Crème fraiche
1 lime, zest only
1 lemon, zest and juice
1-2 tbsp Grand Marnier
flaked almonds to sprinkle

1. Dust the worktop lightly with sifted icing sugar and roll the marzipan out to the thickness of a 10kr coin. Cut out eight circles using a 10 or 11cm cutter , re-rolling the marzipan trimmings if necessary.
2. Using a blowtorch, brown each marzipan disc evenly until it turns a caramel colour. Set aside.
3. Heat the sugar and 500ml water slowly in a saucepan until the sugar starts to dissolve, stirring once or twice. Meanwhile, peel 3 or 4 strips of zest from the lemon using a swivel peeler, and drop into the sugar and water. When the sugar has dissolved, bring the mixture to the boil, then boil for about 5 minutes so you have a medium-strength syrup. Pick out a good handful of small basil leaves and reserve for the crème fraiche. Put the rest of the basil leaves and stalks into the hot syrup.
4. Slip the halved pears into the syrup. Poach on a low heat for 5 - 6 minutes. Remove from stock. When cool enough to handle, peel the skin off each pear and the stone should fall out. Place in an ovenproof frying pan over a medium heat and drizzle the Grand Marnier over, then sprinkle with icing sugar. Transfer to the oven and bake for 6-7 mins.
5. Mix the crème fraiche with the lemon and lime zest. Roll the remaining basil leaves together, slice finely and mix into the crème fraiche.
6. To serve, spoon a little crème fraiche onto the plates and use it to 'fix' the marzipan discs to the plates so they don't slide around. Spoon more crème fraiche on top of the discs. Arrange a pear half, cut side up, on top of the crème fraiche and sit another half, cut side down on top - so you now have a whole pear. Repeat for the remaining plates. Finally sprinkle over the flaked toasted almonds.

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