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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Pear Chips

Michael gave me my French mandolin almost 20 years ago.  I still store it in the original box it arrived in long ago wrapped in pretty paper and tied with ribbon.  After many years of use and storage, the box is battered and ragged. The mandolin remains pristine and I adore it.  I use it for everything;  potato gratins, paper thin cucumbers, julienned vegetables, waffle fries, and chips.  Especially chips.  Specifically, pear chips.  I've made sweet potato chips, apple chips, turnip chips, beet chips, carrot chips, and pear chips. When I need a go to snack,  I always return to the sweet and savoury pear chip.

A couple of nights ago, I did just that.  I pulled the mandolin from its tucked-away cabinet garage to make a batch of pear chips for cocktail snacks.  I've served them many ways over the years, but my  inclination has always been to pair the pears with gorgonzola cheese because the two have a  a natural affinity to each other. Lately, my inclination has morphed into serving the chips with a light and airy gorgonzola mousse. Cocktails, pear chips, and gorgonzola mousse.
Easy and fun. 

I sliced three unpeeled Bosc pears as thinly as possible on the mandolin. 

After bringing a basic simple syrup to a simmer in a large stock pot, I dropped the wafer-thin sliced pears into the syrup to blanche for 3 minutes.  Using tongs, I carefully pulled them from the sryup and placed them onto a non-stick silicone Silpat  before sliding them into a 350 degree oven to bake for about  18 minutes, or until they were browned and crisp.  While they were still hot and a wee bit sticky, I dusted them with fleur de sel sea salt.

The mousse was embarrassingly simple to throw together.  Using a 1/4 pound of creamy gorgonzola dolce that I picked up from W + M Market, I crumbled the gorgonzola into a mixing bowl along with 1/4 cup of heavy whipping cream, a tablespoon of clover honey, and a drizzle of sherry. Armed with an archaic hand mixer, I whipped the cheese mixture until it was quite smooth and set it aside.

Mousse making.  I poured a cup of heavy whipping cream into a stand mixer and whipped it until it was stiff and firm. After folding 1/3 of the whipped cream into the dense cheese to lighten it, I carefully incorporated the remaining whipped cream until the entire mixture was as light as a feather. 

Pears and gorgonzola cheese.....classic. Crisp, sweet, and savoury pear chips with airy gorgonzola mousse....ridiculous.

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