Caramel Poached Pear, Crowdie Puff, Arran Blue Cheese and Walnuts8
- 200g shelled walnut halves
- 225g caster sugar
- 300ml water
- Juice of 3 lemons
- 150ml dry white wine
- 8 firm ripe pears
- 100g rough puff pastry or use shop-bought puff pastry, thawed if frozen
- Plain flour, to dust
- Icing sugar, to dust
- 150g crowdie (or use cream cheese sweetened with a little sifted icing sugar)
- 225g Arran blue cheese (or similar)
- Fresh mint sprigs and fennel flowers, to decorate
- Preheat the oven to 180C (350F), Gas mark 4. Place the walnuts in a baking tin and roast for 8-10 minutes until toasted. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little, then rub off the skins. Set aside until needed.
- Caramel Poached Pear
- Place the sugar in a heavy-based pan and allow to caramelise undisturbed. Remove from the heat and add the water a little at a time, stirring until smooth after each addition.
- Be careful initially as it may splutter and spit. Stir in the lemon juice and white wine.
- Peel and core the pears, keeping the stalks intact. Add to the caramel syrup and cover with a cartouche (circle of greaseproof paper which acts as a lid). Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 20-40 minutes until the pears are tender but still holding their shape - the time will depend on the ripeness of the pears.
- Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the caramel syrup, then remove the pears and reduce down the remaining syrup slightly. Leave to cool completely and set aside until needed.
- Crowdie Puff
- Increase the oven temperature to 220C (425F), Gas mark 7. Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured board and stamp out 8 x 4cm-fluted rounds and put on a non-stick baking sheet.
- Bake for 6-8 minutes or until puffed up and lightly golden. Dust with icing sugar, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.
- To serve, split the puff pastry discs and add a spoonful of the crowdie or sweetened cream cheese to each one.
- Arrange on plates with the poached pears, adding a mint sprig to each pear to decorate.
- Crumble the blue cheese and scatter around the plates with the roasted walnuts, then drizzle around the reduced caramel syrup.
- Decorate with the fennel flowers, if using.