This is a bit of a showboat of a recipe. You’ll need to poach the pears ahead of time and cool them before you attempt to wrap them in the pastry; warm pears would make the pastry impossible to handle. If you have perfectly ripe pears, though, you could make this recipe without poaching them first. In theory, this chocolate sauce shouldn’t work. It does everything you are told not to do with chocolate – such as adding water and heating it in a pan – but the olive oil seems to keep it all in check. With a bit of care and patience, it will come together. It wants to set as it cools, so serve it warm.
- 4 firm pears
- 320g block of vegan puff pastry
- Unsweetened almond milk, to glaze
- 40g demerara sugar
- 200g unrefined caster sugar
- 500ml water
- Juice of 1 unwaxed lemon, plus a strip of its zest
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ½ vanilla pod, seeds scraped out
- 100g dark vegan cooking chocolate
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 4 tbsp (60ml)
- Boiling water
- Pinch of sea salt flakes
Peel the pears, leaving the stalks attached. Place all the poaching ingredients together in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the pears to the pan and simmer very gently for 10 minutes, or until just soft to the tip of a knife. Turn the heat off and let the pears cool in the liquid. Store in the liquid until needed.
When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 180˚C. Roll the pastry out into a long, thin rectangle about 5mm thick. Cut it into 1.5cm-wide strips. Cut the very bottom of each pear away, so they can sit up straight. Starting from the bottom, wrap each pear in a tightly spiralled strip of pastry. You may need to join 2 or more strips together to complete each pear, but this is easily done by dabbing the ends of both with a little almond milk.
Once all the pears are wrapped, brush them lightly with almond milk and scatter over the demerara for crunch. Transfer them to a baking tray and cook in the oven for 20 minutes, or until golden.
When ready, leave them to rest for 10 minutes, which gives you just enough time to make the sauce.
Break the chocolate into small pieces and place them in a small saucepan. Add the olive oil and water. Now, swirl and roll the pan so that the hot water starts to melt the chocolate, but resist the temptation to mix or whisk it. It might need a little more heat to keep it going, so place the pan over a low heat to give it a nudge. Don’t keep it on the heat for too long and don’t let it get anywhere near boiling. When the chocolate seems to have almost lost it shape, you can use a use a metal spoon to stir it together. It should come together into a smooth glossy sauce. Add the pinch of salt and serve immediately, spooning a pool of sauce on to each warm plate and sitting a pastry-wrapped pear on top.
Taken from Dirty Vegan Another Bite by Matt Pritchard, published by Mitchell Beazley, priced at £20