POACHED PEARS IN PUFF PASTRY

Yields6 Servings
 3 firm pears
 450 ml cups water
 Strip of thinly pared orange rind
 1 vanilla pod
 1 bay leaf
 50 g granulated sugar
 350 g puff pastry
 40 g cocoa powder
 75 ml double cream
 1 tbsp butter, softened
 1 tbsp soft light brown sugar
 25 g walnuts, chopped
 1 egg beaten
 1 tbsp caster sugar
1

cut the pears in half and scoop out just the cores with a melon baller or small spoon

2

put the water in a small pan with the orange rind, vanilla pod, bay leaf and sugar; bring to the boil, stirring well; add the pears and more water to cover

3

cover and cook very gently for about 15 minutes, or until just tender; remove the pears with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool slightly while you prepare the pastry; reserve the syrup

4

meanwhile roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and cut out six pear shapes, slightly larger than the pear halves; place the pastry shapes on greased baking sheets and chill for 30 minutes

5

remove the orange rind, vanilla pod and bay leaf from the reserved syrup, then return the syrup to the heat and boil rapidly for 10 minutes; blend the cocoa powder with 4 tbsp cold water in a separate pan

6

stir a few spoonfuls of the syrup into the cocoa paste, then whisk the paste into the syrup in the pan; continue to cook until reduced to about 150ml; remove the pan from the heat and add the cream to the syrup and stir well

7

preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6

8

mix together the butter, sugar and walnuts; pat the pears dry with kitchen paper, then spoon the filling into the cavity of each pear half

9

lightly brush the pastry pear shapes with a little beaten egg; put a pear half filled side down in the centre of each pastry shape

10

lightly sprinkle the pastries with a little caster sugar; bake for 12 minutes or until the pastry has puffed up around the pear and is golden brown; drizzle over some of the warm chocolate sauce and serve immediately

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