Pear and Cheese Turnovers
Pear and Cheese turnovers with diced pears, pecans and Gorgonzola cheese are baked in a homemade puff pastry. These turnovers are certain to put you in the mood for fall! I made these on Sunday night for a sweet and savory dessert. It was the first cool night of the year and the temperatures were dipping into the low 50’s. I even had to pull out my slippers. While baking these incredible turnovers our house got all toasty-warm and filled with the most intoxicating smell. I was so excited when I pulled these out of the oven I could hardly wait to take a bite. Waiting for them to cool slightly was so hard…they smelled incredible!
The crust on these turnovers is fantastic–crispy, flakey and perfect! If you’re not a fan of strong-flavored Gorgonzola, tone it down by using a milder-flavored cheddar or blue cheese; or just leave the cheese out and make pear turnovers. This looks like a long recipe, but it’s really easy if you take the time to keep everything very cold. Make sure you have everything you need ready and work quickly when you start to assemble the turnovers or pastry. If the dough becomes too sticky while you’re working with it, just return it to the freezer or refrigerator for a few minutes; cold dough is much easier to work with. This recipe uses pecan meal, which if you cannot find in your local grocery store, you can easily make your own! Just throw some pecans in a food processor and pulse until ground. Be careful not to pulse too much or you will end up with pecan butter!
Pear and Cheese Turnovers
Yield: 12 turnovers
For the Pastry:
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided
- 1/2 cup pecan meal
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup (sticks) unsalted butter, frozen
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 6 to 8 tablespoons cold water
For the Filling:
- 3 to 4 pears, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch dice (16-8 ounces, about 2 1/2cups)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon corn starch
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
- 1/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
- 2 tablespoons coarse sugar (demerara)
To make the pastry, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk together 2 cups of flour, pecan meal, salt and baking powder and place them in the freezer. Unwrap the frozen sticks of butter, and press the end of each stick into some flour. (This will help give you a grip on the butter while you're grating it.) Grate the butter by hand on the coarse holes of a box grater into large flakes.
In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and cold water. Remove the dry ingredients from the freezer and toss the cold flour and butter together until they're evenly mixed. Add the sour cream mixture to the flour and butter. Using a spatula, fold and pat the mixture until it starts to hold together.
Divide the dough in half. Place each half in the center of a piece of plastic wrap, and form each piece into a 6 x 6-inch square. Wrap the squares and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Remove one square of dough from the refrigerator and use the remaining ½ cup of flour to heavily flour both sides. Quickly roll the dough into a large 10 x 12-inch rectangle. Working with opposite shorter sides (10-inch sides), fold the dough into thirds (like a letter). Use a rolling pin to flatten and widen the dough until it's about 5 x 12 inches. Again, working with opposite shorter sides (the 5-inch sides), fold the dough into thirds to form a rectangle of about 4 x 5 inches. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and return to the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or until it's firm. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough. The dough may be prepared up to this point up to 2 days before using, or up to 1 month before, if kept frozen.
To make the filling, make the filling while the dough is chilling. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine chopped pears, lemon juice and cinnamon. Combine the sugar and cornstarch and sprinkle over pears. Cook until the pears are tender, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.
To assemble the turnovers, before removing the dough from the refrigerator, toast the pecans. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the nuts onto a baking sheet and place in preheated oven 6-8 minutes until fragrant. Shake the baking sheet halfway through baking so the nuts will toast evenly. Remove nuts from oven and set aside to cool slightly. Turn the oven up to 425 degrees. Before removing the dough from the refrigerator have ready a pizza cutter and ruler for cutting the pastry; the filling, and ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets.
Remove one piece of dough from the refrigerator. (If it's been in the freezer, let it thaw, wrapped, till it's pliable.) Heavily flour both sides, and roll it into a 10 x 15-inch rectangle.
Cut the dough into six 5-inch squares. Place 1 heaping tablespoon of pear mixture in the center of the dough. Top with a few crumbles of Gorgonzola and pecans. Brush the edges of the pastry lightly with water. Fold one corner of the dough over the filling diagonally till it meets its opposite corner to form a triangle-shaped turnover. Press the edges very lightly to seal. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.
Place all of the turnovers onto the prepared baking sheets. Brush them with water, and sprinkle them with coarse sugar. Bake the turnovers for 18 to 20 minutes, until they're golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and serve them warm.
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