This mouthwatering dessert is an honest-to-goodness, unmistakable showstopper! For a tempting variation, feel free to substitute apples for the pears. Both are great choices. And both delicious.
Makes: 12 portions
Total Time: 1 Hour 20 Minutes
- 2 blocks (450g/ 1 pound) puff pastry
- 2 tbsp (2 cups) caster sugar
- 4 pears, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, and cored
- 90 g (7 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 90 g (½ cup) golden caster sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 340 g (2 cups) blanched almonds
- 3 Tablespoons plain flour
- 1 egg yolk, beaten with a splash of water to form egg wash
- 2 Tablespoons icing sugar, plus more for dusting
- 180 ml (¾ cup) milk
- 120 ml (½ cup) thickened cream
- ½ vanilla pod, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
- 3 large pasteurized egg yolks
- 75 g (⅓ cup) caster sugar
- 60 ml (¼ cup) brandy, preferably Cognac
- Preheat the oven to 220°C (425°F). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Roll out one block of puff pastry fairly thin into a 35-cm x 15-cm (14-inch x 6-inch) rectangle. Place onto a prepared baking sheet and chill in the refrigerator.
- Roll the second block of puff pastry into a 37-cm x 17.5-cm (15-inch x 7-inch ) rectangle. Fold in half lengthwise and, using a sharp knife or lattice cutter, make incisions about 2 inches (5 mm) apart right through at a slight angle from the fold to within 1 cm (½ inch) of the open ends. Place onto the second prepared baking sheet and also chill in the refrigerator.
- Pour 300 ml (1¼ cups) water into a small saucepan. Add granulated sugar and dissolve over medium heat, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add pears and simmer until just soft, about 20 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and allow to cool completely.
- Add butter, golden caster sugar, whole eggs, almonds, and flour to the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure the lid. Select the lowest setting. Start the machine, slowly increase to Variable 4, and blend for 1 minute to make a frangipane paste. You will have triple the amount you need, so freeze the rest. Clean the container.
- Take the first block of puff pastry out of the refrigerator and spread on a thick layer of frangipane, leaving a 2-cm (1-inch) border around all edges.
- Place the pears in two rows, with the narrow ends facing the center. Brush the edge of the pastry with some of the egg wash.
- Take the folded and slit block of puff pastry out of the refrigerator and place it at one end over the top of the pears, unfolding it so that the pears are all covered. As you do so, the slits will open to form a lattice.
- Press the two pieces of pastry firmly together all around the edges. Brush all over with the remaining egg wash and place back in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
- Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and douse liberally with 2 Tablespoons of the icing sugar before baking for another 5 minutes, or until the sugar caramelizes. Remove from oven. Keep warm.
- To make the custard, place milk, cream, vanilla seeds, egg yolks, and caster sugar in the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure the lid.
- Select the lowest setting or the Hot Soups program (if available). Start the machine, slowly increase to its highest speed, and blend for 6 minutes, or until heavy steam starts to escape from the vented lid; or start the machine and allow the Hot Soups program to complete. Stop the machine. Add the brandy and blend on lowest speed for 10 seconds, or until combined.
- Dust the dartois with icing sugar. Serve warm with the brandy custard.