I was on my way out the door to work the other day and for some reason I said to Snacky Pants, "what would go with Blue Cheese Frosting?", and she gamely replied "pears of course". And then I was thinking of a great post (that I can’t seem to find) that Dana had over at tastingmenu.com about a meal she prepared that was all sweet savories and savory sweets. I love the idea of that. Here’s my first try at this concept. I used puff pastry and caramelized the pears in a skillet, making alternating layers. Then I added smoked Spanish paprika (pimenton dulce) and baked them in mini muffin tins. For the icing I mixed about 1/3 Pena Azul (a Spanish blue cheese) with 2/3 plain cream cheese and a bit of lemon juice, and topped them with a few grains of the red Hawaiian Alaea sea salt. Verdict: pretty good, not bad for a first try at a totally new area of cooking for me. Definitely fun but I think the flavors need a bit of refinement. Also I bet using phyllo instead of puff pastry would be appealing. I didn’t have mini parchment cupcake wrappers, but that would add to the effect, and clearly I should take more care in piping out the frosting. I think the Pena Azul is too salt, I think I would try a Gorgonzola Dolce instead. You could serve them an appetizer with a good sherry. Here’s an approximate recipe:
Caramelized Pear "Cupcakes" With Blue Cheese Frosting
- 1/2 lb. homemade or frozen all-butter puff pastry
- 2 ripe but still firm pears
- 1 T. sugar
- 2 t. smoked spanish pimenton de la vera (dulce) paprika
- 1/4 c.
Pena AzulGorgonzola dolce or other blue cheese
- 1/2 c. cream cheese
- 1 T or so lemon juice
- red Hawaiian Alaea sea salt for garnish
- Preheat oven to 350 and butter 6 spots in a mini-muffin tin
- Slice the pears about 3/16" thick, skipping the core
- Find a couple circle cutters the approximate size of the top and bottom of your muffin tin. Cut 6 small and 6 larger circles of pear. You’ll have lots of pear leftover to eat.
- Heat a skillet on medium, add a bit of butter, and after it melts, sprinkle in the sugar. Add the pear slices and cook a few minutes on each side, til nicely caramelized.
- Again with the circle cutters, cut 6 small and twelve larger circles of puff pastry.
- Put a small piece of puff pastry in each muffin tin, top with a slice of pear, and add a pinch of the paprika. Repeat, and finish with a layer of pastry.
- Bake about 15-17 minutes until golden brown
- To make the icing, just warm both cheese in the microwave for 30 seconds or so until beatable, add the lemon juice, and go at it with a small whisk until smooth. Don’t put any salt in the icing because you want to be able to garnish with it. Taste and adjust.
- Cool the cupcakes, remove from muffin tins, and pipe on the icing with a pastry bag or cut the corner off a small ziplock. Top with a few grains of the red salt.