POACHED BOSC PEARS WITH HONEY CRÈME ANGLAIS & BITTER CHOCOLATE SHAVINGS
Pears are gorgeous and one of the few fruits that withstands a long cooking time, absorbs subtle flavors, and can be prepared well in advance. For me, these pears are equally good for breakfast as they are for dessert following an extravagantly prepared holiday meal.
Nota bene: These pears may be made up to 5 days in advance. Cover the pears and refrigerate in their poaching liquid. A few hours before serving, remove from the refrigerator. Re-warm gently in their liquid before serving. Bartlett and Seckel pears work well, Comice and Anjou do not.
1 quart of water
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup honey
1 cinnamon stick
1 lemon half
1 vanilla bean split
2 star anise
6 very thin slices of fresh ginger, unpeeled
6 firm Bosc pears, cored from the bottom and then peeled, leave stems intact
1 ounce bitter chocolate
HONEY CRÈME ANGLAIS
1 cup heavy cream
4 large egg yolks
1/4 cup castor sugar
1 tablespoon honey
1. In a medium round pan with high sides in which the pears fit snugly. Heat the water, sugar and honey until the sugar dissolves. Add the remaining ingredients, except for the pears. Stir to combine and add the pears.
2. Cut a piece of parchment to fit the top of the pot. Then cut a 1-inch hole in center and cover the pears with the paper.
3. Bring the pears to a bowl and turn down the heat to simmer until the pears are cooked through. Test the pears with a sharp knife. The knife should slide through the pear easily. This usually takes 20 minutes or so.
4. Remove the pears from the heat and let them cool.
5. To serve, put one tablespoon of honey in the center of a plate. The honey helps the pears stand up straight on the plate. Drizzle each pear with honey crème anglaise and shave a small amount of chocolate over pear. Poke one or two small mint leaves in near stem. Use honey to help stick if needed.
TO MAKE THE HONEY CRÈME ANGLAIS:
1. In a heavy bottomed small pot, scald the heavy cream. Remove from heat.
2. Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until blended in small bowl.
3. Slowly, very slowly, add the hot cream to the egg mixture in a steady stream, whisking constantly.
4. When all the scalded cream has been whisked in, pour the mixture into a clean heavy-bottomed pot.
5. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens and coats a spoon. DO NOT BOIL!
6. Pour mixture through a strainer. Melt the 2 tablespoons of honey in the microwave for 5 seconds. Stir the honey into the strained mixture and set over a bowl of ice to cool. Stir every couple of minutes to cool more quickly.
7. Refrigerate until ready to serve.