Ginger Poached Pears with Honeyed Vanilla Custard

By • November 8, 2010 • 32 Comments

Author Notes: I don’t like pie.
There I said it.
That just may condemn me as un-American in some circles, but it’s the truth. By other tasters’ accounts, I'm privileged to know many excellent pie makers. So it’s not that I’ve not been exposed to good pie throughout in my life. I would just rather eat a bowl full of the spiced fruit with a soothing crème anglaise than have it surrounded by pastry.
I am sure my mother-in-law – a masterful pie maker who has searched several continents for the right type of lard for her crust – will make what has become her Thanksgiving standard: pumpkin chiffon pie. And my purist pumpkin freak of a younger brother will expect one of the plain Jane variety.
But since this is only the second time ever that I will be hosting Thanksgiving at my very own table, this is what I will be serving to myself, if to no one else.

Food52 Review: Who knew ginger and pears complemented each other so well? Poach the fruit in lots of ginger beer, and get ready for more layers of ginger flavor from ginger snaps, crystallized bits and the fresh root itself. Everything works together here and highlights the mild sweetness of the pears while adding depth of flavor, a silky creme anglaise and crunchy topping to boot. - broccolirosebroccolirose

Makes four large servings, or eight smaller ones

  • 4 semi-ripe Bosc pears
  • 4 12-ounce bottles of potent Ginger Beer (I used Reeds Extra Ginger Brew)
  • 4, ¼ inch disks of peeled, raw ginger
  • The zest of one lemon, cut into strips that can easily be fished out of the poaching liquid
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ½ vanilla bean
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ¼ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup pecans, toasted
  • 4 high quality ginger snaps (I used DeBeukelaer Corp. Speculaas Crisps Belgian Ginger Cookies)
  • 2 tablespoons minced crystallized ginger, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons, sweetened dried cranberries, roughly chopped
  1. Peel the pears, cut them from top to bottom (keep the stem on one half, if you can, for presentation’s sake) and core them. I like to dig a bigger core hole than necessary as it makes a ready-made receptacle for the crumble topping when you serve them.
  2. Pour the ginger beer in a pan big enough to hold the pears in a single layer and add the raw ginger and lemon zest. Arrange pears cut side down in the poaching liquid. To keep the pears from floating, I invert a pan cover that is slightly smaller than the pan I am using to poach the pears and place it on top of the poaching pears. Get the liquid to a slow simmer and poach the pears until they can be easily pierced with the tip of a knife. For large pears, that takes 25-30 minutes.
  3. When the pears are done, carefully remove them with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool completely.
  4. Use a slotted spoon to fish out the lemon zest and ginger and put the poaching liquid back on medium low heat to reduce to about ¾ of a cup of spicy ginger syrup. Strain the reduced syrup into a pitcher.
  5. To make the crème anglaise custard, pour the half and half and honey in the top pan of a double boiler. Slit the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape its contents out of the pod. Place both the vanilla pod and its seeds into the cream mixture. With water in the bottom of the double boiler, put the pan on the heat and bring it up in temperature to just below a simmer. In a separate metal bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar. When the cream is hot enough, slowly whisk 3-4 tablespoons of the hot cream into the egg mixture. Add another 3-4 tablespoons of cream to the egg mixture continuously whisking. Whisk the thinned egg mixture into the hot cream mixture and put the combination over the double-boiler heat until it reaches about 180 degrees on an instant read thermometer. When it hit that mark, strain the mixture through a sieve into a pitcher and set aside to cool.
  6. Pulse the pecans a few times in a food processor. Add the ginger snaps and pulse a few more times until they are broken down. Stir in the crystallized ginger and cranberries.
  7. To assemble, pour a bit of syrup on the plate. Arrange one or two pear halves on top of it and pour a bit more syrup over the halves to give them a nice sheen. Generously fill the core holes with the crumble mixture. Either serve each plate with a small pitcher of custard, or pour a good amount over the pears before serving.
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Comments (32) Questions (0)


3 days ago reneebetrand

These recipes are very detailed. It makes me hungry.


3 days ago reneebetrand

These recipes are very detailed.


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4 months ago Amy Hamilton

This is amazing recipes sharing with Ginger Poached Pears with Honeyed Vanilla Custard.


6 months ago AlbertBarkley

Recipe is the best one. I will try it for my own at my home.
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7 months ago javier6112

It looks delicious and healthy, besides the ingredients are sweet. I love sweet recipes that are healhy. Thanks for sharing this recipe. address


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9 months ago john

Healthy food are very important to manage your fitness and health this vanilla custard are good recipe.


9 months ago chrisgross

wow such a delicious one. Who knew ginger and pears complemented each other so well? mom says try to have more like this and then give her>she will make this vanilla custard for me as i said to her.


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over 1 year ago Trumans_Banjo

This was delicious! I forgot the half and half and so had to make due with what was in the fridge. We added honey and vanilla bean to Greek yogurt. The tartness from the yogurt was a really nice complement. The custard sounded amazing but I liked this less sweet version.


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almost 3 years ago sdebrango

Suzanne is a trusted source on General Cooking.

Just wonderful, a perfectly light dessert. Kind of crumble or crisp but much lighter. Love it!


almost 3 years ago jane mcmillan

This is so elegant yet simple and the ingredient combo has me salivating!
Beautiful post.


almost 3 years ago cheese1227

Thanks Jane!


almost 3 years ago ellenl

This looks just wonderful. I have never liked pies--something about the crust and its ingredients ...can't wait to make this! Thanks.


almost 3 years ago cheese1227

Let me know how it goes!


almost 4 years ago SallyCan

Nice recipe. Won't be able to join your club, though, as to me, pie is the perfect food, for breakfast, lunch or dinner. So I'll eat all of the pie that you guys won't!


almost 4 years ago mrslarkin

Mrs. Larkin is a trusted source on Baking.

Oh, this looks so nice! Make some tuiles on the side, and you've got deconstructed pie, so as to keep the peace at the Thanksgiving dessert table.


almost 4 years ago cheese1227

What a great idea!! Maybe a lemon one, to help bring out the citrus notes in the ginger beer. I don't think I'll have time to test a recipe for those out before the contest deadline, but there is certainly time before T-day.