Ginger Poached Pears with Vanilla Custard and Walnut Praline

Pears w/ custard and praline

This was dessert last night. It is pears, halved and poached in a simple-syrup with ginger; sitting on vanilla custard with walnut praline in the cored holes of the pears. I served it in wide Martini glasses (they’re oh so pretty, but so easy to spill your drink out of); and it tasted even better than it looks.

For The Pears
I halved and cored four pears (handy hint: use a melon baller to do the coring); and put them in a wide saute pan with one cup of sugar and about four cups of water (enough to cover most of the pears), along with a finger of peeled ginger sliced up. The pears were then cooked over a low heat for an hour, being flipped over every twenty minutes or so.

For the Custard
I have a favourite custard recipe (: It’s nice and reliable, so I haven’t investigated others. I use the custard part of this recipe for Mille Feuille; but instead of orange blossom water, I added vanilla essence (I use the Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon pure vanilla essence. It’s..magical..when the bottle is opened).

For the Praline
I covered the bottom of a small saucepan with sugar, and added just enough water to dissolve the sugar. Before you start cooking the praline, it’s important to have somewhere to put it when you’re finished (: Usually, I’d use a silicon baking sheet; but alas, my one has seen better days. Instead, I used a sheet of baking paper inside a roasting pan. This is the caramel cooling zone.
I heated the sugar+water over medium heat until it turned amber; then added a handful of walnut pieces. Next, jiggle the syrup around so all of the walnut pieces are covered. Then, pour the caramel on to your caramel-cooling-zone.
Give the praline 10-15 minutes to cool down and solidify. Once it has hardened; break it into smaller pieces, then use a pestle (pounding stick from a mortar and pestle) to reduce it down to little pieces.

To Assemble
Place the custard in the bottom of glasses. Put the pear halves on top of that. Fill the cored holes with praline.

Woo!

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Crepes, with caramel sauce and whipped cream

Delicious. Although a bit like eating dessert for breakfast.

Crepes: sift 2 cups flour and 1 teaspoon baking powder together

Whisk 1 egg, 2 1/2 cups of milk, about 2 tablespoons of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of salt together.

Make a well in the flour, and pour the liquid in and whisk everything until smooth.

Take a non-stick pan, and melt about 75 grams of butter. Whisk the melted butter into the batter.

Wipe the excess butter from the pan, and swirl in about 1/3 cup of the batter. Cook until the batter sets, then flip over.

Caramel Sauce: take a small saucepan, and add enough sugar to cover the bottom of the pan in a complete layer. Add enough water to cover the sugar. Add a little drizzle of corn syrup.

Gently heat the mixture until it caramelizes (it’ll take a little while – there’ll be a phase of dissolving, then it will bubble, then it’ll turn light yellow, then darker.); then whisk in 1/2c of cream.

Continue heating the sauce until it thickens.

Caramel Cream

Sometimes, mistakes happen. Sometimes, mistakes are salvageable!

I had whipped cream (about 150ml, thereof); and made some caramel (enough sugar to just cover the bottom of a small pan, covered in water; heated gently until a medium-dark caramel formed).

The theory, was I’d whip the liquid caramel into the cream; and something delicious would result! I was hoping for thin strands of caramel.

Turns out, the caramel liquified the cream; and the cream refused to be whipped back up.

Fear not!

Luckilly, cream comes in 300ml bottles; and I had the rest of the bottle. So, I whipped the remaining cream, then introduced the liquified-caramel-failure slowly; and I ended up with a mousse like dessert treat. Hoorah!

It ended up being quite bittersweet; tasting a little bit coffee-like.