Monday, September 21, 2009
I accidentally left my camera at home the night that Steph, Karen and I went to a Winter Feast at Mad Cow last month. I was kicking myself of course, but you can read about the great dinner we had on their lovely blogs. What I wanted to talk about today is dessert – in particular, the baked pears with honey ice cream. It sounded completely innocuous on the menu, not as exciting as the other option of poached quinces, and we had come for the meat, had we not? But it was the surprise hit of the evening and really blew our socks off with a punchy honey-honey-honey flavour that shone through every component of the dessert. It was bliss, and I’m fairly certain we all considered licking the melted ice cream off the plate… it wasn’t just me was it, girls?
When trying to replicate the dessert at home, I immediately thought of Alice Medrich’s honey ice cream recipe, which I’d had my eye on for months now. It has the distinct advantage of being the easiest ice cream in the world – no custard to make, no more egg whites to add to the collection in the freezer – just milk, cream, honey and a good pinch of salt. I was tempted to add a glug of vanilla extract to the mixture but refrained. This ice cream is all about the honey, so pick one that you love.
Pears are still abundant and baking them is a beautiful way to serve them that I hadn’t tried before. The recipe comes from Molly at Orangette, who has never let me down in matters of the kitchen. Delicately flavoured with lemon and vanilla, the tender pears are absolutely delicious with the honey ice cream. Although my version varies slightly from that at Mad Cow, I liked it just as much. You could bake other fruits in the same way too, stone fruits like apricots and peaches would work especially well I think. You could also add a crunchy cookie or tuille for a bit of textural contrast.
Roasted Pears with Honey Ice Cream
Honey Ice Cream (from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich)
• ½ cup milk
• ½ cup honey
• Good pinch of salt
• 2 ¼ cups heavy cream
Roasted Pears (from Orangette)
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
• 4 medium ripe pears
• 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
• 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
1. To make the ice cream, heat the milk in a small saucepan until it begins to simmer around the edges. Pour into a medium bowl and allow it to cool completely.
2. Add the honey and salt, stirring to dissolve the honey. Stir in the cream, and chill mixture for at least 4 hours but preferably 12.
3. Freeze according to the instructions for your ice cream maker. Serve soft or transfer to an airtight container and freeze until hard enough to scoop, at least 3-4 hours.
4. For the pears, preheat the oven to 200°C. Place the sugar in a small bowl. Scrape the vanilla seeds into the bowl and rub the seeds into the sugar with your fingers until they’ve evenly disappeared.
5. Peel the pears and halve them lengthwise. You can core them if you like, and leave the stems intact. Place them cut side up in a large baking dish and drizzle with lemon juice. Sprinkle with about ¼ cup of the vanilla sugar, dot with the cubes of butter and add 2 tablespoons of water to the dish.
6. Place into the oven and bake the pears, basting every 10 minutes with the pan juices and turning once or twice for about 40 minutes to 1 hour until cooked through and very tender. Add another tablespoon or two of water if the syrup is evaporating too quickly. Serve warm, with honey ice cream.