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Gorgonzola cheese and pears are a traditional wedding of flavors, fresh pears and a wedge of Gorgonzola spelling the end of many an Italian meal. In this recipe we combine cheese course and dessert in one delicious dish. If you're not a fan of strong-flavored Gorgonzola, don't skip this recipe; just leave it out and make pear turnovers (or tone it down by using a milder-flavored cheddar or blue cheese).
This looks like a long recipe, but it's really easy if you take the time to keep everything very cold. This is one recipe where once you start to assemble the turnovers or pastry, it's important to work quickly, so be sure to have everything you need ready. If the dough becomes unbearably sticky while you're working with it, just return it to the freezer or refrigerator for a few minutes; cold dough is much easier to work with.
1 cup (8 ounces, 2 sticks) unsalted butter, frozen
2 cups (8 1/2 ounce) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, to make dough
1/2 cup (2 1/8 ounces) (approximately) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, to dust over dough
1/2 cup (1 3/4 ounces) pecan meal or almond flour (finely ground pecans or almonds)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup (4 1/2 ounces) sour cream
6 tablespoons (3 ounces) cold water
3 to 4 pears, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch dice (12 to 14 ounces, about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) sugar
1/2 cup (2 ounces) toasted pecans or almonds, chopped
1/4 cup (2 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) coarse sugar
extra pecans or almonds (for garnish)
whipped cream (for garnish)
Pastry: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients, and place them in the freezer. Unwrap the frozen sticks of butter, and press the end of each stick into some of the "dusting" flour. This will help give you a grip on the butter while you're grating it. If you have a food processor with a medium-to-large shredding disk, use it; if not, grate the butter by hand, into large flakes, on the coarse holes of a box grater. The task will seem a little messy, but really isn't difficult if you dust your fingers with flour.
Remove the dry ingredients from the freezer, and use your fingers to toss the cold flour and butter together until they're evenly mixed. Stir the sour cream and cold water together, and add this mixture to the flour and butter. Use a dough scraper or spatula to fold and pat the mixture until it starts to hold together. You'll be able to see individual chunks of butter -- that's OK, they shouldn't mix in.
Divide the dough in half. Place each half in the center of a piece of plastic wrap, and form each piece into a 6 x 6-inch square. Wrap the squares well, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove one square of dough from the refrigerator and use the dusting flour to heavily flour both sides. Quickly roll the dough into a large (10 x 12-inch) rectangle. Working with opposite shorter sides (10-inch sides), fold the dough into thirds, like a letter. Use a rolling pin to flatten and widen the dough until it's about 5 x 12 inches. Again, working with opposite shorter sides (the 5-inch sides), fold the dough into thirds to form a rectangle of about 4 x 5 inches. Return the dough to the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or until it's firm. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough. The dough may be prepared up to this point up to 2 days before using, or up to 1 month before, if kept frozen.
Filling: Make the filling while the dough is chilling. Place the chopped pears into a small saucepan or microwave-safe bowl. Add the lemon juice and sugar, and cook over low heat, or in the microwave, for about 5 minutes, until the pears are tender. Set aside to cool.
Assembly: Before removing the dough from the refrigerator, preheat your oven to 425°F. Have ready a sharp knife and ruler for cutting the pastry; the filling, and ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets.
Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator. (If it's been in the freezer, let it thaw, wrapped, till it's pliable.) Heavily flour both sides, and roll it into a 10 x 15-inch rectangle. Use flour to keep the dough from sticking to your work surface. Turn the dough over and flour underneath it to be sure it's not sticking.
Cut the dough into six 5-inch squares. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of pear in the center of the dough. Top with a few crumbles of Gorgonzola and nuts. Brush the edges of the pastry lightly with water. Fold one corner of the dough over the filling diagonally till it meets its opposite corner; you've now got a triangle-shaped turnover. Press the edges very lightly to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Baking: Place all of the turnovers onto the prepared baking sheets. Brush them with water, and sprinkle them with coarse sugar (demerara, coarse white sugar, or pearl sugar are all good. If you don't have any coarse sugar, use regular granulated sugar.) Bake the turnovers in a preheated 425°F oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until they're golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and serve them warm with a bit of whipped cream and toasted pecans or almonds. Yield: 12 turnovers.
Nutrition information per serving (1 turnover, 106g): 354 cal, 25g fat, 5g protein, 24g complex carbohydrates, 4g sugar, 2g dietary fiber, 51mg cholesterol, 270mg sodium, 131mg potassium, 179RE vitamin A, 2mg vitamin C, 2mg iron, 57mg calcium, 85mg phosphorus.
This recipe reprinted from The Baking Sheet Newsletter, Vol. XIII, No. 2, Winter 2002 issue.