To learn more, read "Pear Shaped" in our National edition.
Pear Croustades with Prune-Armagnac Ice Cream
Recipe adapted from Jennifer Yee, Lafayette, New York City
Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours
Total Time: 3 hours, 45 minutes
1 cup pitted prunes
½ cup brandy, preferably Armagnac
1 pint vanilla ice cream, slightly softened
Roasted Pear Filling
4 ripe Bartlett Pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 tablespoons honey
½ of a vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
Pinch of salt
4 sheets frozen store-bought phyllo dough, thawed
½ cup melted clarified butter
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon panko breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
1. Make the ice cream: Place a large bowl in the freezer. Combine the prunes and brandy in a small bowl and let soak for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days. Transfer the soaked prunes and brandy to a food processor and pulse to purée.
2. Remove the bowl from the freezer and add the ice cream. Using a rubber spatula, fold the prune purée into the ice cream until it is well combined. Transfer the ice cream to a sealable container and freeze until ready to serve.
3. Make the roasted pear filling: Preheat the oven to 450°. Place the pears, butter, honey, vanilla bean seeds and salt in a shallow baking dish and toss to combine. Roast, basting occasionally with the pan juices, until the pears are caramelized and tender, about 1½ hours. Let cool completely.
4. Lay 1 sheet of phyllo dough on a clean surface. (Cover remaining sheets of phyllo with a damp towel to prevent the dough from drying out.) Use a pastry brush to lightly brush the entire surface of the sheet with some of the clarified butter. Top with another sheet of phyllo and brush with butter. Repeat two more times to make 4 layers.
5. Cut layered phyllo dough into 4 equal portions, so that you will end up with four equal-sized rectangles roughly 9 by 6½ inches each. Working with one rectangle at a time, spread 1 teaspoon of the breadcrumbs onto the center of the dough. Spoon about 1/3 cup of the pear filling on top of the breadcrumbs, piling it up in the center. Gather the edges of the phyllo together over the filling to make a purse. Pinch them togethe over the top of the filling to seal, allowing the excess dough at the top to flair out. Transfer the croustade to a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes.
6. Reduce the oven temperature to 400°. Bake the croustades until golden and crisp, about 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack and let cool.
7. To serve, dust the croustades with the confectioners' sugar and serve with the ice cream.