Cardamom Pear Breakfast Pastries 12.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Oct 14, 2019

Wow your house guests, impress the in-laws, win at brunch. These pastries are absolutely delicious and pretty as a picture. Each element is quick to pull together, and can be done in advance. Keep the puff pastry as cool as possible and, if it warms, pop it back in the refrigerator or freezer to chill again before proceeding.

Make Ahead: The pear puree may be made up to 1 week ahead, covered and refrigerated. The pastry cream may be made up to 3 days ahead, covered and refrigerated. The streusel may be made 1 week ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator. The pastry squares may be cut, scored and frozen for up to 3 months, tightly wrapped. The pastry may be assembled up to 1 hour ahead. The pastries may be baked up to 6 hours ahead, refrigerated and reheated at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 12 servings

  • For the pear puree
  • 2 pounds (900 grams) Bartlett pears or other ripe pears, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cardamom seeds, finely ground with the side of a knife, or in a mortar and pestle
  • For the pastry cream
  • 1 cup (240 milliliters) whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon cardamom seeds, finely ground with the side of a knife, or in a mortar and pestle
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Pinch kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons (21 grams) unsalted butter, cubed
  • For the streusel
  • 1/4 cup (40 grams) flour
  • 1/4 cup (25 grams) rolled (not instant) oats
  • 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (28 grams) unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
  • For the egg wash
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon cool water
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • For assembly
  • 2 (1-pound/454-gram) packages puff pastry, defrosted overnight in the refrigerator
  • Flour, for dusting the counter


Make the puree: Place the pears, water, sugar, lemon juice and cardamom in a small saucepan. Set over medium heat and cover, cooking gently until the fruit is cooked through and mushy, and all the excess moisture has evaporated, about 12 minutes. Stir frequently to avoid scorching. Remove from the heat and stir briskly into a smooth puree. Cool completely.

Make the pastry cream: Set a strainer over a large bowl placed inside an ice bath. In a small saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat until tiny bubbles appear at the edge of the pan. Stir in the cardamom seeds, remove the pan from the heat, cover and steep for 30 minutes. Strain the milk and discard the seeds. The milk should still be slightly warm — if not, gently warm again over low heat.

Whisk 1/3 cup (80 milliliters) of the cardamom-scented milk with the cornstarch, flour and egg yolks in a small bowl and set aside. Combine the remaining milk with the sugar and salt in a medium saucepan and warm over medium heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. When small bubbles appear at the edge of the pan, remove from the heat and slowly whisk about half the milk into the egg mixture. Return the milk-and-egg mixture to the pan and place it back on medium heat. Whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil until the pastry cream thickens and is satiny and smooth like pudding, about 5 minutes. Watch and whisk steadily to avoid scorching.

Remove the pan from the heat and, using a whisk or a sturdy spoon, push the custard through the strainer into the bowl set over the ice bath, to remove any lumps. Add the butter cubes and continue to stir until the butter has melted and the pastry cream is glossy and cooled. Scrape the custard into a small bowl. Place a piece of plastic wrap on top of the surface of the custard to keep a skin from forming. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until completely cool.

Make the streusel: Place the flour, oats, brown sugar, nutmeg and salt in the work bowl of the food processor and pulse until the mixture is pebbly, about 5 times. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture comes together in damp clumps, 2 or 3 pulses.

Make the egg wash: In a small bowl, whisk the egg, water and salt together until thoroughly combined.

Assemble the pastries: Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove one package of puff pastry from the refrigerator. Liberally dust the counter with flour and roll out the pastry until it is 8-by-12-inches. Using a pizza wheel or a sharp paring knife, cut 6 (four-inch) squares.

Fold one pastry square in half diagonally. Using a sharp knife, make a cut along one of the short sides about 1/2 inch from the edge, starting at the fold and stopping about an inch short of the opposite corner. Repeat with a cut on the other short side. Unfold the triangle to reveal a diamond shape with the attached corners at top and bottom. Lift the separated edge on one side of the diamond and pull it across so the point is on top of the opposite corner. Repeat with the other separated edge. This should create a pastry that is diamond-shaped with decorative twists at the top and bottom, and a center exposed and waiting for the filling. Repeat with the remaining dough squares. If at any time the dough warms and gets gooey, return it to the refrigerator to re-chill, about 15 minutes. Using a small pastry brush, coat the edges of the pastry with the egg wash. Chill the pastries in the refrigerator for 20 minutes. Repeat with the second package of puff pastry to create 12 pastry shells.

Spoon 1 scant tablespoon of pear puree into the center and spread it to the frame. Gently spread 2 tablespoons of pastry cream on top of the fruit. Scatter about 1 tablespoon of the streusel over the custard. Repeat with the remaining pastries. Place the baking sheets in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

While the pastry chills, preheat the oven to 400 degrees with the rack in the middle if baking one sheet at a time, or in the top and bottom thirds if baking two sheets at a time.

Slide the pastries into the oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes. The puff pastry will get deeply bronzed and will lift up in airy layers. The custard will get lightly freckled and the streusel will toast. If baking two baking sheets at once, swap and rotate the baking sheets after about 15 minutes, to ensure even baking. Cool slightly before serving.

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Recipe Source

From Bring It! columnist Cathy Barrow.

Tested by Cathy Barrow.

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