chocolate, pear and cinnamon swirls

autumnal associations: sweet pears alongside cinnamon, complemented by dark, indulgent chocolate
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cold milk
  • 3 sheets of ready-rolled puff pastry
  • Unsalted butter
  • 2 large, or 4 small, pears, stalks removed and cut into small cubes
  • Crumbled dark chocolate, to taste (roughly a ratio of 1 large square of chocolate to 1 pear)

I stumbled across this recipe in a food magazine from last month, and I thought it’d be the perfect way to use up the remaining pastry from the salmon and leek parcels. Although the original recipe looked delicious, I decided to make some very simple changes, allowing me to incorporate other, perhaps less usual ingredients seen in cinnamon swirls, and therefore lead the taste in another direction, developing what is already good into something even better.

In my opinion, pears are one of the best autumnal fruits. When ripe, there is nothing sweeter than its juice, bursting with every bite – they are a joy to eat, and perfect to cook with. Paired with chocolate, the refreshing juice of the fruit offsets the richness of the chocolate brilliantly, leaving an impression of indulgence with each mouthful. The benefit of using dark chocolate in this recipe in preference to milk is that the final flavour of the swirls is not sickly, but sweet and tasty – the chocolate complements the pastry itself, rather than making it too heavy to enjoy. The flavour of the cinnamon, however, is kept: having a smell and taste very often associated with the colder months, most notably Christmas, its inclusion enhances the autumnal feel of these pastries, complementing the pears. Simple to make; impressive results! To the oven…

Method

  1. Begin by crumbling the chocolate. Using a large knife, slice the chocolate into thin strips lengthways. Gather the chocolate strips, and slice them widthways. Repeat until you have tiny squares of chocolate.
  2. Heat the oven to 200 degrees and line a baking sheet with baking paper. In a small bowl, mix the cinnamon and sugar, and set aside.
  3. Divide the pastry into three even strips, and lay the first sheet down onto a clean, and where possible floured, surface. Spread a third of the butter over the pastry, and dust with a third of the cinnamon and sugar mixture.
  4. Place the second piece of pastry on top of the first, and repeat the butter and cinnamon sugar process; layering the third sheet over the second, repeat the process again.
  5. On the third sheet, begin adding the pear and chocolate. It is important to distribute the pear evenly here, to ensure that it does not fall out as the pastry is rolled up in the next stage, causing you to lose the main flavour staple! Sprinkle chocolate over the pears, and fill in any gaps with smaller chunks of pear.
  6. Roll the pastry from right to left into a long sausage shape. Using a sharp non-serrated knife, slice the roll into as many even sections as possible, roughly of 2-3cm thicknesses.
  7. Lay the pastry circles flat on the baking tray, and brush with the cold milk. Top each pastry swirl with a little more cinnamon sugar, and place in the oven to bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden and well-risen.
  8. Remove the pastries from the oven, and allow to cool before storing or eating, as this will ensure the chocolate hardens to keep the pastry as one entity!
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