I wanted to try another ingredient from my 2014 Food Trends article. This time I wanted to use Asian influence in my baking. My spice cupboard is overflowing but they are usually used is savoury dishes, not sweet ones. To change that I came up with this lovely dish of Dark Chocolate Star Anise and Pear Spring Rolls
I have an abundance of Star Anise at the moment due to the fact on my last visit out to Dubai I spent a lot of time in the Spice Souk. If you love spices this is a must visit destination! I picked up loads of star anise, cinnamon sticks and quite a bit of saffron but to name a few.
As I was attempting to create an Asian inspired dish I wanted to use the star anise in particular and wrap it all up to look like a spring roll. Star anise tastes like aniseed, it’s not for everyone but when used to subtly flavour a dish it can be heavenly.
To keep the dish sweet I used a lovely ripe pear and then to give it a lovely twist I added good quality dark chocolate chips. Sublime flavour combination all wrapped up in filo pastry with a little cinnamon sugar on top
Dessert or Finger Food?
These will make wonderful finger food nibbles for a buffet or part of a indulgent dessert, served with a good quality vanilla ice cream or even fresh cream if you prefer.
I did make these with both milk and white chocolate but they were best with a good quality dark chocolate. The bitter sweet flavour of the chocolate paired perfectly with the subtle star anise flavour and the pear just bought it all together.
I made a pear ‘jam’ to fill these with, it’s not a real jam more of a thick compote. I just chopped the pear up into small chunks cooked it down with a little water and sugar and mixed in a little cornflour (cornstarch) to thicken it up.
I cooked the pear first so that it would be soft and remain that way so these treats could be enjoyed hot or cold and the fruit wouldn’t be hard and crispy.
This recipe only makes 6 small spring rolls, but the recipe can easily be doubled, tripled or even quadrupled to accommodate more servings. These 6 are perfect for 2 or 3 people or one very greedy person
- 1 large pear - diced small
- 60 millilitres water, (1/4 cup)
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 whole star anise
- 1 teaspoon cornflour (cornstarch)
- 1 tablespoon water
- 4 sheets filo pastry
- 6 teaspoons good quality dark chocolate chips
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter - melted
- cinnamon sugar for sprinkling
- Chop your pear up into small chunks and place them into a small saucepan and add the water, sugar and star anise.
- Place on the heat and very gently simmer for 8 to 12 minutes. You want your pear to soften but the chunks to still hold their shape.
- In a small cup mix the cornflour (cornstarch) and water together till you have a white liquid and add to the fruit mix. It will thicken quickly so take it off the heat as soon as it has done so.
- Put it to one side and allow it to cool down so you can handle it without burning yourself.
- Once the fruit is cool enough for you to handle, pre heat your oven to 180C / 350F / Gas mark 4.
- Melt your butter in the microwave grab a pastry brush. Take 4 sheets of filo pastry place one on top of the other and cut them up into 6 squares.
- Take one of the small squares, butter around the edges, repeat until you have 4 layers.
- Place 1 heaped tablespoon of pear 'jam' in a line down the centre, leaving a couple of centimetres at each end. Take a teaspoon of your dark chocolate chips and sprinkle on top of the fruit.
- Fold the long edges over until it just overlaps the fruit. Fold one half of the pastry over till it covers the filling and then roll like a cigar.
- Brush the tops with a little more of the melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. If you don't have any cinnamon sugar just normal sugar will work.
- Pop them on a baking tray seam side down and in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes. They should have a light golden colour to them and be crispy.
- Eat on their own as a snack or serve with ice cream or cream as a dessert. These lovely treats will keep in an airtight tin in the fridge for 4-5 days but it's recommended you reheat in the oven for a few minutes before eating them.