Here is a twist on a great Dorie Greenspan recipe... Brioche raisin snails. I wanted to incorporate pear, and while looking at her pastry cream variations, saw ginger pastry cream and thought it would go so well with pear! Dried cranberries seemed like a great substitute for the raisins. I was sooo excited to flambe something for the first time, and since I had the pear theme going, I went with some pear brandy. Yum!
Pear Ginger Brioche Snails
Slightly adapted from Baking: From My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan
~1/2 cup craisins
~1/2 cup diced pear
~3 tablespoons pear brandy
~1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
~Scant 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
~1/2 recipe for Golden Brioche Loaves(page 48), chilled and ready to shape (make the full recipe and cut the dough in half after refrigerating overnight)
~1/2 recipe Pastry Cream (page 448)Put the craisins in a small saucepan, cover them with hot water and let them steep for about 4 minutes, until they are plumped. Drain the craisins, return them to the saucepan, adding pears, and warm them over low heat while stirring constantly. When the fruit is very hot, pull the pan from the heat and pour over the brandy. Standing back, ignite the liquor. Stir until the flames go out, then cover and set aside. (The fruit and liquor an be kept in a covered jar for up to 1 day.) Mix the sugar and cinnamon together.
On a flour dusted surface, roll the dough into a rectangle about 12 inches wide and 16 inches long, with a short end toward you. Spread the pastry cream across the dough, leaving 1-inch strip bare on the side farthest from you. Scatter the fruit over the pastry cream and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar. Starting wit the side nearest you, roll the dough into a cylinder, keeping the roll as tight as you can. (At this point, you can wrap the dough airtight and freeze it up to 2 months; see Storing for further instructions. Or, if you do not want to make the full recipe, use as much of the dough as you’d like and freeze the remainder.)
With a chef’s knife, using a gentle sawing motion, trim just a tiny bit from the ends if they’re ragged or not well filled, then cut the log into rounds a scant 1 inch thick. Place the snails on a parchment lined baking sheet. Lightly cover the snails with wax paper and set the baking sheet(s) in a warm place until the snails have doubles in volume–they’ll be puffy and soft–about 1 hour and 30 minutes.
When the snails have almost fully risen, preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Remove the wax paper, and bake the snails for about 25 minutes, or until they are puffed and richly browned. Let cool for 5 minutes then remove from sheet.
Golden Brioche Loaves
2 packets active dry yeast
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch water
1/3 cup just-warm-to-the-touch whole milk
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature but still slightly firm
To Make The Brioche: Put the yeast, water and milk in the bowl of a stand mixer and, using a wooden spoon, stir until the yeast is dissolved. Add the flour and salt, and fit into the mixer with the dough hook, if you have one. Toss a kitchen towel over the mixer, covering the bowl as completely as you can– this will help keep you, the counter and your kitchen floor from being showered in flour. Turn the mixer on and off a few short pulses, just to dampen the flour (yes, you can peek to see how you’re doing), then remove the towel, increase the mixer speed to medium-low and mix for a minute or two, just until the flour is moistened. At this point, you’ll have a fairly dry, shaggy mess.
Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula, set the mixer to low and add the eggs, followed by the sugar. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes, until the dough forms a ball. Reduce the speed to low and add the butter in 2-tablespoon-size chunks, beating until each piece is almost incorporated before adding the next. You’ll have a dough that is very soft, almost like batter. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the dough to a clean bowl (or wash out the mixer bowl and use it), cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, 40 to 60 minutes, depending upon the warmth of your room.
Deflate the dough by lifting it up around the edges and letting it fall with a slap to the bowl. Cover the bowl with the plastic wrap and put it in the refrigerator. Slap the dough down in the bowl every 30 minutes until it stops rising, about 2 hours, then leave the uncovered dough in the refrigerator to chill overnight. The next day, pull the dough from the fridge and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Use immediately for snails or wrap well with saran wrap and foil and store in the freezer.
1 cups whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1/4 cups sugar
8 teaspoons cup cornstarch, sifted
4 to 5 quarter sized pieces of fresh ginger
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into bits at room temperature
Bring the milk and ginger pieces to a boil in a small saucepan. Cover and let steep for one hour.
Meanwhile, in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, whisk the egg yolks together with the sugar and cornstarch until thick and well blended. Still whisking, drizzle in about 1/4 cup of the steeped milk through a strainer to catch the ginger – this will temper, or warm, the yolks so they won’t curdle. Whisking all the while, slowly pour in the remainder of the milk. Put the pan over medium heat and, whisking vigorously, constantly and thoroughly (making sure to get the edges of the pot), bring the mixture to a boil. Keep at a boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.
Whisk in the vanilla. Let sit for 5 minutes, then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are full incorporated and the pastry cream is smooth and silky. Scrape the cream into a bowl. You can press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the cream to create an airtight seal and refrigerate the pastry cream until cold or, if you want to cool it quickly–as I always do–put the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water, and stir the pastry cream occasionally until it is thoroughly chilled, about 20 minutes.