Christmas is here…according to the supermarkets. Don’t remember retail festivities starting quite this early.
So here is another early Christmas dessert – poached pears. I adore poached pears, but not in red wine, so these are poached in blackcurrant juice. With typical festive spices, such as cloves and cinnamon, these sweet pears are a real winner for the holiday season.
Accompanied by a lush ice cream, crunchy Parisian Scrolls and melt in the mouth Caramel Nibs – that kids and grannies’ will fight for – it’s a dessert to please most families.
Everything can be made in advance giving more time – for kitchen slaves like myself – to enjoy the company of friends and family.
Ice Cream: Makes approx’ 620ml.
100g dark chocolate – broken into small pieces.
300ml Milk – I used lactose free milk.
150ml coconut milk – full fat tinned.
1 dessert spoon of cocoa powder.
2 dessert spoon of skimmed milk powder.
1 tsp vanilla extract or seeds from 1 vanilla pod.
1 tsp of ice cream stabiliser. (optional)
70ml rum or brandy.
60g pistachio nuts – crushed.
Tip: Tinned coconut milk contains creamy coconut solids and liquid. Use the creamy solids and make up the 150ml with the coconut liquid.
Parisian Scrolls: (makes 18-20)
130g caster sugar.
2 egg whites – equal to 80g.
65g warm melted butter.
60g plain flour – sieved.
1 tsp vanilla extract.
Pinch of salt.
20g melted chocolate. For dipping ends of baked scrolls – optional
Caramel Nibs: (makes 260g)
120g double cream.
50g golden syrup.
60g white chocolate.
Poached Pears: (Serves 6)
6 firm fresh pears – peeled with stalks still attached.
500ml blackcurrant juice/cordial with 50% juice.
Juice and zest of 1 lemon.
3 cardamon pods.
3 star anise.
2 bay leaf.
1/2 cinnamon stick.
In a small dish, soak the sultanas in rum or brandy – for at least 5 hours.
Add the water and sugar to a pan. Slowly bring to a boil. Once boiling simmer for 5 minutes to create a light syrup. Set aside to cool.
In a thick bottomed pan add the milk, dark chocolate, coconut milk, cocoa powder, milk powder, vanilla and stabiliser. Bring to a boil then simmer for 3 minutes. Sieve into a clean bowl and set aside to cool.
Once the the milk mixture is cool add the syrup and any excess liquid from the soaked sultanas – don’t add the sultanas.
Churn the ice cream mix in an ice cream maker.
When your ice cream has formed, remove from ice cream maker and mix in crushed pistachio nuts and soaked sultanas. Freeze for several hours in a suitable container.
Set oven to gas 5 or 190°C / 375°F
Melt butter and add vanilla. Set aside.
With a hand mixer whip the egg whites and salt to stiff peaks.
With a balloon whisk, fold the sugar, flour, butter and vanilla into the whipped egg whites. Combine thoroughly.
On a baking tray, lined with silicon paper, place 2 teaspoons of the mixture three inches apart. With the back of the spoon spread each portion of mixture out, using a circular motion, to a 10cm-11cm circle. (see image)
Bake on the middle shelf for 8-10 mins’. The outer edges will bake to a rusty brown while the centers will be lighter in colour.
Remove tray from the oven, leave for 10 seconds then quickly lift each wafer, flip over and roll. The wafers are hot so asbestos fingers are required – no pain no gain. Set aside to crisp up on cooling racks. (see image) When cool, dip ends of scrolls in melted chocolate – this is optional.
Tip: Perform a test bake or two to get your technique correct.
Don’t be tempted to over bake the parisian scrolls, as over baking will cause them to break in the rolling process.
I usually bake two to a tray until all the mixture has been used up.
Store your baked and cooled Parisian Scrolls in an airtight container.
Caramel Nibs: (Sugar thermometer needed)
Note: When making this caramel never leave the pan unattended. It will boil over and burn. Take your time, lightly stir regularly once boiling.
Place the honey, cream and syrup into a thick bottomed pan.
Slowly bring to a boil then turn down the heat slightly.
Using a sugar thermometer, bring caramel to softball temperature – 116°C / 240°F
Once reaching the required temperature, remove from the heat and mix in the white chocolate. Pour the caramel into a heat proof tin/dish lined with parchment paper. I use an oblong dish that is 21cm L x 7cm W x 3cm D. (see image)
Leave the caramel to cool at room temp’. Once cool, wrap in cling film and refrigerate.
When you are ready for serving with the ice cream etc; cut off small chunks/nibs with a sharp knife. Use as and when ice cream is on the menu or you just fancy a, melt in the mouth, caramel hit.
Add the liquids, spices and lemon to a large pan.
Trim the bottoms of your peeled pears so that they will stand upright.
Place your pears into the pan with the other ingredients.
Bring the blackcurrant liquid to a boil and pop on a lid. Simmer the pears for 35-40 mins’ or until soft. Once cooked remove from the heat.
Place the pears in a clean dish and pour over the blackcurrant liquid. (see image)
Leave to cool, remove the spices, then chill in the refrigerator. Note: don’t leave the spices macerating with the chilled poached pears – their flavours will overpower
Now that all your prep’ is done it’s just a matter of serving as you see fit. The dessert can be plated for each individual or the poached pears can be presented in a serving dish with the ice cream and Parisian Scrolls offered on the side. Don’t forget your caramel nibs.