Pecan Puff Pastry with Chocolate Sauce and Sabayon

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I invented this dish for a 1982 dinner at San Francisco’s Clift Hotel done by a group of chefs. It was such a success that I used it again at the now legendary inaugural dinner, at the Stanford Court, of the American Institute of Wine and Food, the dinner being prepared by chefs from all over the United States. It is a superb combination of flavors and is very easy once you master puff pastry, a discipline that I have always thought was best left to other people. Lacking the willing other person, you may use the very good easy version of puff pastry.

Ingredients

  • 4 rectangles puff pastry, 4 by 2 by ¼ inches
  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  • ½ cup light sugar syrup
  • pinch salt
  • 5 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa
  • ¾ cup water
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon whipping cream
  • cups sabayon mousseline sauce

Method

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Put the cold puff pastry pieces on a wet baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Let cool. Slice the pieces horizontally in half. Scoop any uncooked pastry from the centers. Put the pieces on a tray and reserve.

Toast the pecans on a tray in the oven for 10 minutes. Let cool. Then put them in a food processor and grind them. Add the syrup and salt and puree until smooth.

To make the chocolate sauce, mix 4 tablespoons cocoa with just enough of the water to make a smooth paste. Bring the sugar and remaining water to a boil and stir into the cocoa. Whisk until smooth and return to the saucepan. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring constantly. Let cool a bit. When the mixture is still warm, stir in the butter and then the cream. Keep warm.

Warm the pecan puree in a double boiler.

Spoon the chocolate sauce on warm plates. Put the bottom pieces of the pastry in the center and spoon the pecan puree onto the pastry. Put the tops on, spoon some sabayon over, and sprinkle with the remaining cocoa.