cremeanglaise

By Joanne Yolles

This dessert begins with simple poached pears and a fruit and nut stuffing. For crunch, the pears are wrapped in kataifi, a Greek pastry dough that can be purchased frozen (usually alongside the phyllo dough) in many supermarkets and at Greek and Middle Eastern grocery stores. The pears can be prepared several hours ahead of time and baked just before serving. Crème anglaise or vanilla ice cream is a perfect accompaniment.

Makes 6 servings

Poached Pears
4 cups water
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 strips lemon peel
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 ripe but firm Bosc pears, peeled, stems left intact

Fruit and Nut Filling
1/3 cup chopped dried fruit (a combination of apricots, cherries,
cranberries and/or blueberries)
1/4 cup chopped unsalted pistachio nuts
3 Tbsp light brown sugar

Kataifi Crust
1/3 box (approx.) kataifi dough, defrosted overnight in refrigerator
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
3 Tbsp granulated sugar

Make the poached pears: Cut a round of parchment paper to the diameter of a large saucepan. In the large saucepan, combine water, sugar, lemon peel and lemon juice. Over high heat, bring mixture to the boil. Add pears to liquid stem-end up and cover with the round of parchment paper. When liquid returns to a simmer, reduce heat and continue to simmer until pears are just tender when pierced with a paring knife, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pan from heat, remove parchment paper, and allow pears to cool in poaching liquid.

Make the filling: In a small bowl, combine dried fruit and add boiling water to cover. Let stand until softened, 1 to 2 minutes; drain well. Return fruit to the bowl and stir in nuts and brown sugar; set aside.

Prepare the pears: Using a slotted spoon, remove pears from poaching liquid and pat dry. Using a paring knife or small end of a melon baller, carefully remove cores and seeds from base of each pear. Fill each pear with an equal amount of the fruit and nut mixture. Rest stuffed pears on their sides on a flat work surface.

Wrap the pears in kataifi and bake: Line the bottom of a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine kataifi dough, melted butter and sugar; toss to lightly coat. Divide kataifi into 6 portions on the work surface and wrap a portion around each pear, leaving stems exposed. Stand pears stem-side up on baking sheet. Bake in a 350ºF oven until kataifi is golden brown and crisp, about 25 to 30 minutes. Serve hot, with crème anglaise or vanilla ice cream.

CRÈME ANGLAISE

1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup whipping (35%) cream
3 Tbsp granulated sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
3 large egg yolks

In small saucepan, combine milk, cream and sugar. Split the half vanilla bean pod in half lengthwise and scrape black seeds into milk and cream mixture. Add the pod. Turn on heat and bring mixture just to the boiling point.

In medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and very gradually whisk in heated milk and cream mixture. Pour mixture back into saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring slowly and continuously with a wooden spoon until mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. (To avoid curdling, do not allow custard to heat past a simmer). Remove from heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl. Discard solids. Serve warm or refrigerate until needed.
©Edible Toronto, Fall 2009
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