Posted by Grace Massa Langlois on Tuesday, 16th November 2010
I recently picked up the current issue of the Donna Hay Magazine (Issue 51) (my favourite food magazine) where Donna features maple syrup. I had no idea there were so many different ways to feature this amber elixir! She gave lots of options but I knew immediately I wanted to make crème brûlée. I found the most amazing Forelle pears at the market and it couldn’t be denied that Poached Forelle Pears would make the perfect accompaniment to the Maple Crème Brûlée.
Crème Brûlée is the perfect dessert; quick, easy yet elegant. It’s perfect for any dinner party.
Here’s a question for you. How is Crème Brûlée like a chameleon? Well, just as the chameleon can change it’s colour based on it’s environment, Crème Brûlée can take on entirely new flavours based on the syrup you infuse it with or spices you add.
And finally, one of the best parts about serving Crème Brûlée at a dinner party is that it can be made ahead of time and quickly caramelized just before serving.
The marrying of the Maple Crème Brûlée and Poached Forelle Pears provides not only a symphony of flavours but also of textures and sensations. It provides the three key elements to a magnificent dessert, creamy, crunch and meaty (something to sink your teeth into).
I like to serve the poached pears warm along side the chilled custards. The combination of the chilled custard and the warm pears wakes up the palette and also provides a comforting feeling (you know that feeling you get when you enjoy a warm slice of apple pie with ice cream?).
The combination of the silky, smooth custard with the crispy, crunch layer of the brûlée is amazing in itself. Then adding the al dente bite of the pear makes it truly scrumptious!
Caramelizing two layers of Demerara sugar ensures that sensational cracking sound (music to my ears) you want to achieve when you take your spoon and start tapping the brûlée to uncover the velvety custard.
Whether planning a party for 10 or your own party of one, this dessert of Maple Crème Brûlée served with Poached Forelle Pears is certain to be the belle of the ball!
I made a Classic Crème Brulée a while back and I also found a couple of other ways to prepare Crème Brûlée that I wanted to share with you. One is for Chocolate Crème Brûlée at delicious days. I can’t wait to try this one! And also this Lavender Crème Brûlée from Cafe Fernando intrigued me because it is not baked in the usually recommended water bath.
Maple Crème Brûlée with Poached Forelle Pears
Serves 4 to 6
Maple Crème Brûlée
(Adapted from Donna Hay Magazine, Issue 51)
Makes 4 6-ounce custards or 6 4-ounce custards
- 1 cup (250 ml) milk
- 1 cup (250 ml) heavy cream (35%)
- 1 vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
- 2 eggs, plus 2 egg yolks, extra
- ½ cup (110 g) caster (superfine granules) sugar
- ¼ cup (60 ml) maple syrup
- Demerara sugar, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 150° C (300° F). Set 4 6-ounce ovenproof dishes in a deep baking dish lined with a folded tea towel (prevents the individual dishes from sliding around and ensures the custards cook evenly as the dishes do not touch the baking dish directly), set aside.
- Place the milk, heavy cream and vanilla bean in a medium-sized saucepan set over low heat and bring to scalding point.
- Meanwhile, place the eggs, egg yolks, caster sugar and maple syrup in a medium-sized bowl and whisk until pale, about 2 to 3 minutes.
- Gradually add the milk mixture to the egg mixture, whisking constantly as you pour to prevent the eggs from cooking.
- Let the mixture rest for 10 to 20 minutes to allow the vanilla to infuse.
- Pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large measuring cup or pitcher.
- Divide the custard mixture evenly among the individual ovenproof dishes.
- Open the oven door and pull out the middle rack halfway; transfer the baking dish to the rack. (This step will prevent the chance of water getting into the custards).
- Carefully fill the baking dish with just boiled water to reach halfway up the sides of the individual ovenproof dishes. Cover the baking dish loosely with aluminum foil. Carefully push in the oven rack.
- Bake until the custards are just set around the edges and the centres are slightly jiggly, about 35 minutes (start checking custards at the 25 minute mark, depending on the depth of your oven proof dishes it may take less or more than 35 minutes).
- Transfer baking dish to a wire rack and allow custards to cool until individual dishes are comfortable enough to handle. Remove individual dishes from water bath, cover and refrigerate until chilled, at least one and a half hours or as long as two days.
- Just before serving, sprinkle Demerara sugar evenly over the surface of the baked custards.
- Using a kitchen torch (set to continuous flame) wave the tip of the flame over the sugar at close range until it begins to melt and reaches a light to medium amber colour (rotate the dish for even caramelization). If you do not have a kitchen torch, set the oven to the broiler setting (make sure to preheat) and place the individual custards on a baking sheet on the top rack of the oven. Move baking sheet around to ensure even caramelization.
- Repeat a second time if desired to create a crispier crust.
Poached Forelle Pears
- 630 ml (2 2/3 cups) water
- 240 grams (1¼ cups) Demerara sugar
- 6 Forelle pears (firm but ripe), peeled and cored
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeded
- 1 cinnamon stick
- In a medium saucepan bring water and sugar to a boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar is completely dissolved.
- Meanwhile, wash, peel (using vegetable peeler and keeping as much of the pear’s natural shape as possible), cut in half and core (with a melon baller) pears.
- Reduce heat to medium-low; add vanilla bean, seeds, and cinnamon stick.
- To the poaching liquid add prepared pears cored side down, flipping pears halfway though cooking time, covering pears with a cartouche (**see recipe notes for preparing a cartouche – a tip I picked up when visiting David Lebovitz’s site). Gently simmer at medium-low heat until pears are cooked through (pears should still hold their shape but are tender when pierced with a skewer), 15 to 25 minutes.
- Remove from heat; remove baking paper and set-aside allowing pears to cool in the poaching liquid.
- Serve pears warm with a scoop of ice cream. If you would like to make use of the poaching liquid, remove the vanilla bean and cinnamon stick and then cook the poaching liquid over medium-high heat until it reduces by half and becomes a thick syrup (keep an eye on the liquid you don’t want it to darken too much). Drizzle warm syrup over warm pears and serve with ice cream.
- Poached pears can be stored in an airtight container in the poaching liquid fridge for 3 or 4 days, reheating and preparing syrup (if using) prior to serving.
- Create a cartouche (paper circle) by cutting a piece of non-stick baking paper just a little larger than the size of your saucepan.
- Place the baking paper on a flat surface and fold it evenly in half. Fold the baking paper in half once again; then fold the baking paper in half one last time (creating a triangle).
- Place the tip of the paper triangle in the centre of the saucepan and using scissors trim the larger side of the triangle to create a circle, which will fit snugly over the fruit in the saucepan. Using scissors, trim a small piece from the triangle tip creating a whole in the centre, which will allow some of the steam to escape.
- Place the paper over the pears while they’re cooking, pressing down occasionally as they simmer, to ensure the liquid is covering them.
Tags: baked pudding, creme brulee, custard recipes, dessert, desserts, desserts for entertaining, Donna Hay recipes, entertaining, food, food photography, food photos, fruit, individual dessert, individual desserts, maple syrup, pear recipes, pears, pudding
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