Marsala Poached Pear Galette with almond cream + another round of firsts

Today is yet another roundup of firsts for me. It’s my first food-related post. It’s my first attempt at making a pastry dough, pastry cream, blanching almonds, and poaching pears. What does the amalgamation of these ingredients culminate to? A galette! Hope this pans out.

This is me before baking: eyes glazed over, ablaze with insurmountable, starry-eyed hope   (づ。◕‿‿◕。)づ

This is me after reality hit: (⊙︿⊙)

Man, food photography is hard. I scroll through beautifully photographed food blogs on a daily basis without really realizing how much time and effort is put into the composition, lighting, and styling. With the short, winter days plaguing St. Louis, it’s hard to section out the perfect time between classes with enough natural light for cooking/shooting. I get so overwhelmed that I end up putting it off until, unbeknownst to me, yet another week has gone by.

To remedy the situation, I have decided to organize my weeks around two posts: one on recipe that I really want to try and another on anything inspirational, be it food, music, movie, art. The occasional rant about life may be thrown in somewhere too. 

On the first week on February, I shall:

  • Roast Bosc pears
  • Make no-knead bread and smear it with deliciously buttery butter (I picked Kerrygold to start with)
  • Make this incredibly cute stack of mini cakes
  • Find a way to use up the rosemary I have. Any ideas?

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I’ve been building up this expectation for myself to take amazing pictures, get a lot of views, and breeze through the whole baking/blogging process. Nope. Truth is, I was madly swerving around my tiny kitchen. Dressed in all black and covered in flour, sugar, and sweat, it was not a pretty site. I stooped over poaching liquid and crouched down to take the perfect level picture of the counter. Then, I connect my camera, look at my pictures, and ultimately get discouraged after seeing all the amazing blogs out there. But ultimately, that is not what this blog about. I’ve learned to let my curiosity inspire me. I’ve learned to go forward without expectation, but not without hope.

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A galette is essentially a lazy-man tart. In other words, perfect for a college student who doesn’t need to buy yet another pan three and a half months before graduation. Three and a half months. Excuse me while I curl up under my duvet and attempt to wrap my head around this.

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The purpose of this blog is for self-discovery. There was definately no shortage of self-discoveries today. Midway through running around my kitchen like an idiot, I realized two things: I am messy (clearly not Masterchef material) and I should really read through the recipe before starting. This resulted in poaching my pears in a too-small pot, sugared-water hissing often enough to keep me on edge, threatening to spill over any second.

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Note to self: use a bigger pot next time -_-

See the messiness? See what I mean!?

See the messiness? See what I mean!?

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I also curdled the cream a little…

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…but a sieve fixes everything!

Most of the recipes will probably be like this, curated for the pastry-loving individual. Not that I’m hoarding everything to myself (maybe a little), but it’s just more manageable to bake smaller batches. I ended up baking the galettes in two batches. That way, I eat them individually, fresh out of the oven and give the other to my roommate! (That was the plan, at least. They were gone by the time she got back. Oops. ( ՞ ڡ ՞ ))

Have a wonderful February! 

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Marsala Poached Pear Galette with Almond cream


makes one large galettes or 4 small ones

For the crust
1 1/4 cups (155 grams) All-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cubed
2 tablespoons ice water

For the poached pears
2 cups water
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 whole cloves
1 anise star
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Bosc pears, ripe and firm, cut into halves
1/4 cup Marsala

 For the almond cream
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons sugar
a pinch of salt, kosher or sea salt
1 egg, separated
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup blanched almonds*
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar

1. Do ahead: blanched the almonds. This how-to guide helped!

2. Start with poaching the pears (seriously, they take a while). Bring a medium pot to boil with all the ingredients listed. Once the sugar dissolves, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer. Add the pears and cook for 35 minutes or until pears are tender. Once tender, remove the pears and place them in a bowl with the Marsala. Keep simmering the liquid until it is reduced by about 2/3.

3. While pears are poaching, make the dough. In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, and salt. Pulse to sift. Then, add cubed butter and pulse until there are small lumps. Add one tablespoon of water, pulse a couple of times, then add the next tablespoon. Don’t worry if it looks too dry. I dumped mine onto the counter and mixed it a bit with my hands until it came together. 

4. For one large galette, roll the dough into a large ball, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate. If you want to make mini galettes, divide into 4 balls, wrap each, and chill for 30 minutes. Freeze if you don’t want to make them all at once.

5. For the almond cream filling, you need start with making a pastry cream *gasp!*. Add the milk into a small saucepan and bring to medium-low heat. While the milk heats, combine cornstarch, sugar, salt, and egg yolk in a small bowl. Once the milk is warm, add 1/3 of the milk into the egg mixture while whisking. Be sure to constantly keep whisking to prevent the eggs from curdling! Pour the egg mixture back into the sauce pan. Stir until pastry cream thickens. Add vanilla extract and strain cream through a sieve to filter out lumps. Set aside.

6. In a food processor, pulse the blanched almonds and confectioners’ sugar. Add the egg white and pulse until incorporated. Then, combine the almond paste with the pastry cream to form almond cream. Yay!

7. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the dough from the fridge. Place the dough on a large sheet of parchment paper and fold it over the dough. Roll the dough to about the width of your pear slices.

8. Place the now-Marsala infused pears onto a cutting board and slice them thinly (I was too lazy to remove the cores, but you can if you want to). Slice them lengthwise for shorter slices to make mini galettes. Half a pear should be enough for one mini galette.

9. Time to put the galettes together! Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and flip the crust onto the baking sheet. Generously spread almond cream in the center, leaving 1/2″ to fold the crust over. Layer on the pears, starting from biggest to smallest.

9. Bake your lovely galettes for 35 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

10. Spoon the reduced syrup over galettes. Enjoy!!!

Storage
If you don’t want to make all the galettes at once, the dough keeps a couple weeks in the freezer, so you can freeze some and thaw them overnight in the fridge (or be lazy like me and chuck them in the in the microwave for 10 seconds or so). Keep the pears in the bowl with the Marsala. Store the almond cream in a small container, covered with parchment paper so that a skin doesn’t form over it.

Recipe adapted from Two Red Bowls

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