Honey-Caramelized Pears with Orange-Vanilla Flan
- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 oranges, zest removed with a vegetable peeler
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 2 2/3 cups sugar
- 8 large egg yolks
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Vegetable oil, for coating
- 2 quarts water
- 1 lemon, zest removed with a vegetable peeler
- 10 firm Bartlett pears (about 1/2 pound each)—peeled, halved and cored
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup honey
- In a medium saucepan, combine the milk with the cream, half of the orange zest, half of the vanilla bean and 2/3 cup of the sugar and bring just to a simmer. Let the custard cool to room temperature, then whisk in the egg yolks and whole eggs. Transfer the custard to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 250°. Lightly coat ten 3- to 4-ounce ramekins with vegetable oil and arrange them in a roasting pan. Strain the custard into a large glass measuring cup and pour it into the ramekins, filling them about three-quarters full. Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and bake for about 1 hour or until the flans are set. Carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath and let them cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the flans until well chilled, about 4 hours.
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine the water with the lemon zest and the remaining 2 cups of sugar, orange zest and vanilla bean. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the pears and cover with a heatproof plate or pot lid that's slightly smaller than the saucepan, to keep the pears submerged. Simmer over moderately low heat until the pears are just tender and a knife inserted in the thickest part comes out easily, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a platter. Let the pears and poaching liquid cool separately.
- Divide the butter and honey between 2 large skillets and bring to a boil. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 4 minutes. Add half of the pears to each skillet, cut side down, and cook, turning occasionally, until golden and beginning to caramelize, about 12 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of the reserved pear poaching liquid to each skillet and cook over moderate heat, turning and basting the pears, until the liquid reduces to a thick syrup, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a platter. Stir 2 tablespoons of the poaching liquid into each skillet to thin the syrup. Pour the sauce over the pears.
- Run a thin-bladed knife around the flans to loosen them and dip the bottom of each ramekin in hot water. Top each flan with a dessert plate and invert; holding the ramekin and plate together, give the dish a good shake to unmold the flan. Arrange 2 pear halves alongside each flan. Drizzle the flans and pears with the syrup and serve.
Dark Gingerbread Pear Cake
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1/2 cup molasses (not robust or blackstrap)
- 3 large eggs
- 1/4 cup grated peeled ginger
- 1 Bosc pear
- Accompaniment: whipped cream
- Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle. Butter and flour a 9-inch cake pan, knocking out excess.
- Whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and salt.
- Melt butter with water.
- Beat together brown sugar and molasses with an electric mixer until combined. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well. Beat in flour mixture at low speed until just combined. Add butter mixture and ginger, beating just until smooth. Pour into cake pan.
- Peel pear and cut into 3/4-inch pieces. Scatter over batter. Bake until a wooden pick inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool slightly.
Pear and Walnut Tart
- 2 cups flour, plus more
- ½ cup plus 3 tbsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. kosher salt
- 12 tbsp. unsalted butter (1 ½ sticks), cubed and chilled
- 1 whole egg plus 1 egg white, lightly beaten together
- 1 cup golden or sultana raisins
- 1 cup brandy
- 2 lbs. firm ripe Bosc pears, peeled, halved, cored, and thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 8 amaretti cookies, crushed
- In a bowl, whisk together flour, ½ cup sugar, and salt. Add 8 tbsp. butter; work butter into flour until it resembles coarse sand. Add egg mixture; stir to form a dough. Briefly knead dough on a floured surface. Press dough into a disk; wrap in plastic wrap; chill for 2 hours. Working on a floured surface, roll dough into a 13" circle about 3/16" thick. Transfer dough to an 11" removable-bottom tart pan set on a baking sheet; press dough into pan. Trim edges of dough; prick bottom with a fork. Cover tart shell with plastic wrap; chill in freezer for 20 minutes.
- Heat oven to 400°. Place a 13" circle of parchment paper inside tart shell; fill with dried beans. Bake until edges brown, about 20 minutes. Remove paper and beans; continue baking until browned all over, 18–20 minutes. Let cool.
- Meanwhile, put raisins into a bowl; cover with brandy; let sit for 20 minutes. In a bowl, combine remaining sugar, pears, and lemon juice; transfer mixture to cooled tart shell. Drain raisins; scatter over pears. Sprinkle walnuts and cookies over pears. Dot top with remaining butter; cover rim of tart with strips of foil. Bake until tart is golden and bubbly, 45–50 minutes. Let cool; serve.