Chocolate Pear Entremet
Un entremet poire chocolat is an ultra-refined dessert made of layers of chocolate cake, pear flavored mascarpone and covered in chocolate cream. The key to this dessert is to use very fragrant and juicy pears. I waited a few days for the pears to reach the peak of ripeness. I baked the mini chocolate cakes in 4-½" diameter pans so we could each have our own serving.
Of course, we ended up sharing one individual cake and feeding each other. Lulu commented that the entremet was almost too pretty to be eaten, but he soon got over his initial reaction. It was the perfect way to end our Valentine's Day dinner, and I'm sure I'll be making more of these in the near future. There's no reason to wait a whole year to enjoy this decadent treat again!
Yields: 4 individual desserts6 rounds chocolate sheet cake, cooled completely
3 pears (I used Bartlett), ripe
2 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 cup granulated sugar
½ cup water
3 egg yolks
4 tablespoons superfine sugar (or granulated sugar)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon brandy extract (optional)
2 cups mascarpone cheese
2 cups heavy cream, cold
1 large piece pear glacé (dried candied pear), finely diced
1 cup milk chocolate, finely chopped
2-½ tablespoons pear eau de vie (or pear nectar)
4 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 sheet white and milk chocolate decorations (tips), broken into small pieces
4 milk chocolate truffles (I used Lindt), store-bought
For the pears:
Peel, halve and core the pears. Drizzle with lemon juice. In a saucepan, make simple syrup with the granulated sugar and water. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to the lowest setting. Add the pear halves and let simmer for about 2-3 minutes. Reserve the syrup.
In a mini-blender, pulse 2 halves into a fine purée. You could also use a potato masher or the back of a fork for a coarse texture. Set aside.
For the mascarpone filling:
Beat the egg yolks with 2 tablespoons of superfine sugar in a small stainless steel mixing bowl. Prepare a double boiler: Fill a saucepan with water, making sure the water barely covers the bottom of the stainless steel mixing bowl. I always like to add a little kitchen towel, under the bowl so there won't be any splatter of water in your egg mixture. Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Place the stainless steel bowl on the saucepan and start whisking the egg mixture vigorously for about 3-5 minutes using a handheld mixer. You'll get a pale, yellow foam and the texture of the egg yolks will get thicker. The mixture should fall like a ribbon of sauce when you lift the whisk.
In another mixing bowl, whisk the mascarpone cheese to soften it. Slowly add the egg mixture to the mascarpone, adding just a little egg at a time. Add the vanilla extract and salt.
Divide the filling into 2 bowls. In one bowl, add the pear purée, pear glacé bits and pear eau de vie (or pear nectar).
Heat a pot half-full of water to a gentle simmer, cover it with a piece of cloth so the bowl does not move and place a stainless-steel bowl filled with chopped milk chocolate on top. When the chocolate is melted, let the chocolate cool for about 2-3 minutes and add it to the second bowl of mascarpone. Add brandy extract (if used).
Clean your handheld mixer in hot soapy water. Always make sure the beater blades are completely clean prior to whipping cream or egg whites for optimum results. Whisk the cold whipping cream until it forms soft peaks. Add 3 tablespoons of powdered sugar. Divide the cream in half. Using a silicone spatula, gently fold one half the whipped cream into each mascarpone mixture to get an airy batter.
Pat the 4 pear halves dry using paper towels. Cut them lengthwise into thin slices using a paring knife (as pictured).
Once cooled completely, gently divide each cake round in half by slicing crosswise. You'll have 8 pieces. Baste with about 1-½ teaspoons of the pear syrup per layer of cake.
Place a layer of cake on a dessert plate. Pipe little mounds of pear mascarpone filling around the edges of the round. You could add coarsely crushed dentelle cookies (see tips) if you like a contrast in texture. Fill the center with pear mascarpone filling. Cover with another layer of chocolate cake. Add a layer of chocolate cream on top and on the sides. Even out the chocolate cream using an icing spatula. Immediately decorate the sides with white and milk chocolate decorations.
Repeat the same procedure for each of 3 mini cakes. Plastic-wrap the individual plates and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
When you're ready to serve, unwrap the plate, decorate with halved sliced pear, a milk chocolate truffle and dust a little powdered sugar (using a fine mesh strainer).
I baked the chocolate cakes in 4-½" mini spring-form pans.
I prefer using superfine sugar. It's fine-grained and dissolves more quickly than regular granulated sugar.
I bought pear glacé at my local store, Milk Pail Market, 2585 California Street, Mountain View, CA 94040.
I used pear nectar but for a more intense flavor, you could use pear eau de vie (liqueur) or a sweet white wine such as Sauternes.
I didn't have any, but I usually add coarsely crushed gavotte crêpe dentelle cookies to the pear cream for a crunchier texture contrast, that resembles the texture of a chocolate Trianon (also named Le Royal). It's a chocolate dessert made with an almond sheet cake and a layer of crunchy (corn flakes or dentelle cookies can be used) chocolate mousse.
I find it best to store the entremets for at least 4 hours so the sheet cake has time to soak up all the flavors of the pear eau de vie, pear and chocolate blend.
I used ripe Bartlett pears, but you could use Comice varieties. If you want to save some time, you could also use canned pears in syrup but i think they have a less pronounced pear flavor with a metallic hint.
How to create white and milk chocolate decorations: Melt the chocolates using a thermometer (see notes). Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat. Melt 1 cup of finely chopped white chocolate. Using a silicone brush, randomly brush the white chocolate onto the silicone mat. Let the chocolate set for about 2-3 minutes. Cover the white chocolate with 2-½ cups of melted semi-sweet chocolate. Using an icing spatula, spread the chocolate. Chill in the refrigerator for about 5-7 minutes. The chocolate should harden without streaks. Using a clean icing spatula, delicately lift and break the chocolate into 2-½" pieces; there should be an artful design on the back of each piece, made from the previously melted white chocolate. Set aside. This can be prepared in advance. Store in a dry, cold area.
Tempering chocolate: I usually use a digital thermometer to reach the perfect temperature for tempering chocolate. The melting temperature for chocolate should be between 113 and 118°F. Let the chocolate cool down to 90°F for dark chocolate and 84°F for white chocolate. Once the temperature reaches 78-80°F, fold in the whipped cream (if needed).
My little trick to ensure that the serving plate is always clean is to line the plate with a piece of parchment paper cut in half (placed close together) before placing the cake. That way you can just pull each one away from the middle; delicately remove the pieces of paper once the chocolate mousse has set in the refrigerator and start decorating and add your finishing touch (truffle, sliced pear and powdered sugar).Published By: on February 15, 2010.