"Chef Goldsmith's granita is a showstopper. It's light and delicate, yet flush with flavor. The unique flavor profile of the Comice pear truly shines and pairs perfectly with the cardamom spice.”--Kevin Moffitt, president and CEO of Pear Bureau Northwest, which honored Michael's Genuine Food & Drink pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith as its December Pear Panache chef of the month.
Pear and Cardamom Granita with Pistachio Pomegranate Biscotti
Makes 1 quart granita and 2 dozen biscotti
1 1/2 pounds (about 3) ripe Comice pears
8 cardamom pods, toasted and crushed
1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 lemon, juiced
1 cup + 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups pistachios, coarsely chopped
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Fresh herbs, like mint, basil or lemon verbena
Peel, core and dice the pears into 1-inch cubes.
Lightly toast the cardamom pods in a small sauté pan over medium low heat until they smell slightly toasty, about 2 minutes. Cool and lightly crush the outer shells.
Put the water and sugar in a saucepan with the cardamom pods, vanilla bean seeds and pod and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and remove from heat. Allow the syrup to sit and infuse at least 30 minute or longer, if possible.
Strain the syrup into a small saucepan, add the pears and lemon juice and simmer for 10 to 12 minutes, until soft and translucent. Remove pan from the heat and let the pears cool in the syrup.
When cool, puree the pears and syrup in a blender. Pour the puree into a large bowl, add 3 cups of water, stir well and allow the mixture to sit overnight in the refrigerator.
Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a shallow pan, about 9- by 13-inches. Freeze 30 to 45 minutes then use a fork to scrape the ice crystals that have formed around the edges of the pan into the middle. Repeat this step every 30 minutes or so until the mixture resembles shaved ice. It should take a few hours, scraping about four times.
Cover with foil until ready to serve.
Make the biscotti between scrapings. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Place the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer or a medium size mixing bowl. Zest the 2 lemons into the sugar. Use your fingers to rub the zest with the sugar; this brings out the citrus oil and coats the sugar.
Add the flour, baking powder, salt and pistachios to the bowl. Mix to incorporate using the paddle attachment on the mixer, or your hands. Whisk together the eggs, yolk, vanilla and almond extract. Add to the dry ingredients and mix on low speed or continue mixing with your hands. The mixture will seem dry at first but eventually comes together. When that happens, remove dough from the bowl and form it into a 12-inch by 2 1/2-inch wide log on a piece of parchment paper.
Place the biscotti log on a baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes total, rotating the pan after 15 minutes. It will spread considerably. Remove the pan from the oven and reduce the temperature to 250 degrees.
Once the log has cooled, use a serrated knife to slice it on a slight angle or, for longer biscotti, on a greater angle. Place the slices back on the baking sheet and return to the oven for 20 minutes. Rotate the pan after 10 minutes. The second time in the oven dries the cookies for crunch. Cool to room temperature before storing in an airtight container.
To serve, scrape several spoonfuls of granita into a chilled martini or wine glass and sprinkle with pomegranate seeds. Top with several more spoonfuls of granita and top additional pomegranate seeds and fresh herb leaves. Serve biscotti on the side.