Most fruit dumplings are constructed by wrapping a piece of fruit in a square of dough. This one is a little different—the fruit and a dab of almond filling are sandwiched between two layers of puff pastry, and the dough never shrinks, falls away, or does anything but rise to flaky perfection around the fruit.
Makes 8 pastries
1 1/3 pounds all-butter puff pastry
2 tablespoons lemon juice, strained before measuring
4 firm-ripe Bartlett pears, about 2 pounds
1 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, left whole
3-inch piece of cinnamon stick
1/4 cup almond paste
2 tablespoons sugar
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
Egg wash: 1 egg whisked with a pinch of salt
Confectioners’ sugar for finishing
- To poach the pears, half-fill a 4- to 5-quart Dutch oven with a cover with ice water and the lemon juice. Peel, halve, and core the pears, dropping them in one piece at a time. Skim out the ice, add the sugar, vanilla bean, and cinnamon, and bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Boil for 1 minute, cover the pan, remove it from the heat, and let the pears cool in the syrup. Remove the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick and refrigerate the pears in their syrup for up to several days.
- For the almond filling, beat the almond paste and sugar together at medium speed in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. Beat in an egg yolk and continue beating until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps. Beat in the remaining yolk and the butter, followed by the flour. Set the filling aside.
- When you’re ready to assemble the pastries, drain the pears and trim the stem ends off to make them round. Line a jellyroll pan with parchment and set it near your work area.
- Roll the dough on a floured surface to an 8 x 16-inch rectangle. Cut it in half and roll each half to 8 x 16 inches. If the dough begins to get soft, slide the pieces onto a cookie sheet and chill them for a few minutes.
- Place one sheet of dough on the work surface and use a ruler and bench scraper to mark it into 4-inch squares. Cut them apart. Line them up on the prepared pan, and spoon a dab of almond filling into the center of each. Cover the filling with a pear half.
- Mark and cut the second piece of dough as above, then use a sharp pastry wheel to cut a 2-inch cross in the center of each piece, ends pointing toward the corners of the square of dough. Lightly brush egg wash around the pear on one of the pastries, then lay one of the squares of dough over it, lining up the edges of the pastry so that the top of the dumpling opens at the cut cross. Press with a fingertip all around the perimeter of the square. Repeat with the remaining pastry squares, then cover the dumplings loosely with plastic wrap and chill them for at least 4 hours.
- Set a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 400°F. Use a dry brush to dab egg wash on the pastries, then bake them until they are well risen and baked through, 45 to 55 minutes.
- Cool the dumplings on a rack and serve warm. Dust them lightly with confectioners’ sugar right before serving.