Pear Calzone Recipe
November 3, 2004 8:50 PM   Subscribe

I need help reverse-engineering a dessert recipe. It was a pear calzone, with white chocolate inside with the pears. I can do the calzone dough no problem, but what do I do to soften up the pears (and do they need sugar like an apple pie?) and how do I bake it so the chocolate inside doesn't go all horrid?
posted by krunk to Food & Drink (18 answers total)
To soften the pears, peel them, then poach them in a sugar syrup. Use 2 parts water (or wine, if they looked coloured) to 1 part sugar. Throw in a vanilla pod and a cinammon stick or two.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 9:30 PM on November 3, 2004

Could the chocolate have been a ganache rather than just a hunk of chocolate allowed to melt? I'm thinking that would work fairly nicely if the baking time isn't excessive.
posted by Dreama at 12:45 AM on November 4, 2004

Softening the pears isn't something you should do manually; like apples, there are many kinds of pears with many kinds of textures. Simply pick the right one for the job. I'm guessing you're using something like a Bosc pear, which has firm flesh that doesn't completely soften on baking. Try an Anjou or Bartlett pear, which has softer flesh that should get even softer on baking (I like using these for cobbler)

As far as the chocolate: what do you mean by "horrid?"
posted by rxrfrx at 4:21 AM on November 4, 2004

And if by "horrid" you mean "runny," as Dreama has suggested, then you might consider using a rich chocolate custard or pudding (try both, egg yolk and/or flour) instead of solid chocolate (or ganache, which I'd imagine would also get runny). The custard should stay rather viscous even when very warm, creating the same effect that you get when using tapioca- or flour-thickened fruit filling in a pie or cobbler.
posted by rxrfrx at 4:23 AM on November 4, 2004

Response by poster: I picked up some organic Bartlett pears, but they're quite firm; I'm assuming since they're out of season (I'm in Toronto). If I can't find softer ones I'll try obiwanwasabi's idea for softening them.

By horrid chocolate, I meant getting really runny, then possibly burning. It's possible that the restaurant used a ganache, but I doubt it was a pudding. The calzones are only baked for ~15 minutes, maybe that will be short enough for the chocolate to survive.
posted by krunk at 6:46 AM on November 4, 2004

I know that this is a dessert and not a real calzone, but you may want to consider not baking for as long as 15 minutes. What temperature are you using? Real calzones are baked at 250+ °C for less than 10 minutes.

And if your Bartlett is too firm... then how about letting it ripen until it's much softer? It may get grainy, but it will certainly get softer on its own.
posted by rxrfrx at 6:49 AM on November 4, 2004

I think poaching the pears is likely to give a much better texture for this dish than just using a softer variety. Poaching really does change the texture of pears dramatically, makes them much less meal-y and prevents them from dissolving into a puree. Try just poaching the pears in a light stock syrup, maybe with a vanilla pod chucked in.

The suggestion of making a white chocolate custard is also a good one. Even ganache will go grainy and bad if it is overheated, which is very possible when cooking a dish like this in a domestic oven. Maybe a white chocolate creme patissiere would work well (basically an egg custard stablised with cornflour, blended with grated white chocolate). This should give you a bit more heat tolerance than you would get from chocolate alone

I'm imagine that the oven issue would be key. Cooking this type of dish successfully might rely on having an oven that can handle really high temperatures, so that the bread round the outside can be cooked nicely and browned, without the filling being stewed in the heat for too long. Definitely cook it at as high a temperature as possible, but it might still be hard to get a good result, depending on how good your oven is.
posted by bifter at 6:58 AM on November 4, 2004

Have you considered asking the restaurant for their recipe? (Also, many local newspapers' food sections have a column in which readers can write in their recipe requests, and they'll ask the restaurants for their recipes.)
posted by Vidiot at 7:06 AM on November 4, 2004

This sounds a lot like a pear and chocolate pudding (more like a UK pudding than a US pudding.) The trick with the chocolate is probably to let it set up before serving. Check out this recipe- it's for a dark chocolate version, but if I'm right, it should have the correct theory, and all you'd have to do is engineer the white chocolate filling.

Pear and Chocolate Pudding
posted by headspace at 7:25 AM on November 4, 2004

Luscious Pears are naturally softer than any other pear I've eaten. They're in season right now.

You should be able to get them at any organic grocery.
posted by rocketman at 8:46 AM on November 4, 2004

Also, you might want to try sauteeing the pears in butter. That softens them up.
posted by rocketman at 8:46 AM on November 4, 2004

Response by poster: I no longer live in the same town as the restaurant, but I suppose I could try calling them -- do restaurants often do this? If so, that'd be great!

It was an upscale pizza place, so they baked it in a nice brick oven. Is the consensus that I blast it at a high heat for a short amount of time?
posted by krunk at 8:59 AM on November 4, 2004

Definitely! If they had a proper pizza oven then it might be hard for you to get a similar finish to be dispiritingly honest, but it's definitely worth a try. In any event, you want the oven as hot as it can get. Would probably be a good idea to heat a pizza stone in it for an hour or so before you cook the calzone too if possible (the radiant heat it creates helps a lot). I seriously expect that they would cook it for 4 or 5 minutes maximum in a proper brick oven.
posted by bifter at 9:36 AM on November 4, 2004

Most restaurants are amenable to this, actually, and the "secret-ingredient" BS is, fortunately, rare.

I'd write them a nice letter, praising their calzone and asking for the recipe. Point out that you no longer live near there, or else you'd be there ordering it all the time...but instead, you have to try to recreate it yourself.

This gives them something they can put on their wall. Plus, they can respond at leisure instead of when they're busy, and you'll have a hard copy of the recipe to work from, rather than your notes from the phone call.

Re: the oven, food writer Jeffrey Steingarten once had success with putting his electric oven on a "clean" cycle, then turning it off, in order to get the high heat necessary for really good pizza crust.
posted by Vidiot at 9:38 AM on November 4, 2004

Consider chilling the poached pear + chocolate before you bake.

Also, try a dry run with ordinary chocolate. You might be surprised how well it holds up (think of chocolate chips in cookies - they do fine!).

Lastly, poaching in syrup + alcohol is DEFINITELY the right approach to soft pears. If you have a raw pear, my pick is that it could still be distinctly raw by the time the calzone is cooked.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:29 AM on November 4, 2004

Response by poster: would white baking chocolate taste any good? I've never tried it. I'm guessing it'll hold up better than regular high-quality white chocolate.
posted by krunk at 11:17 AM on November 4, 2004

It would depend on the sugar content. It's the sugar and fat in chocolate that causes it to do funky things when overexposed to heat. If it has enough sugar in it to taste good, then its stability is in question.

Though there are always white chocolate chips...
posted by Dreama at 11:55 AM on November 4, 2004

Response by poster: I've bought some white baker's chocolate to try tomorrow -- speak now or forever hold your peace!

if it works, I'll post the recipe here (or maybe at Cooking for Engineers).
posted by krunk at 6:27 PM on November 4, 2004

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