Make Ahead

Vanilla-Bay Poached Pears with Saffron Crème Anglaise

November  4, 2012
0 Ratings
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

I wanted to incorporate the flavors of vanilla with something a little out-of-the ordinary. Fresh bay has a hint of sweetness. I thought it would marry well with saffron and vanilla. The Epicurious website provided the technique for poached pears from the March, 1997, issue of Gourmet magazine (minus the Port and spices). For a crème Anglais I looked to the February, 1998, issue of Bon Appetit. Please note that the bay leaves must be fresh, not dry. —creamtea

What You'll Need
  • For the Crème Anglaise (best made a day ahead)
  • 1 pinch saffron threads
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup light cream
  • 1 2-3 inch vanilla bean, split, the seeds scraped with the point of a sharp knife
  • 2 fresh bay leaves (not California), twisted along the central stem to crack and release aromas; try not to detach the pieces
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons organic sugar
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • For the poached pears
  • 6 firm but ripe Bartlett pears, a thin slice taken off the bottom of each to enable it to stand, and peeled, leaving stems intact.
  • 5-6 (or more) cups water
  • 1/3 cup organic sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly-squeezed, strained lemon juice
  • 2 fresh bay leaves (not California), twisted along the central stem to crack and release aromas; try not to detach the pieces
  • 1 vanilla bean (left intact)
  • 1 pinch fine sea salt
  1. For the Crème Anglaise (best made a day ahead)
  2. Pre-heat oven to 200º. Place saffron threads on a small square of aluminum foil, about 3 1/2" on a side, separating slightly,
  3. Place foil in oven and toast saffron 7-8 minutes. Set aside.
  4. Place about 2" of water in the bottom half of a double-boiler and set upon a medium flame. Bring to a simmer and turn heat to low.
  5. In a small heavy saucepan, combine milk, cream, reserved saffron, vanilla seeds (whisk to disperse the seeds) and the shell of the vanilla bean, bay leaves, and salt. Scald over medium-low heat (tiny bubbles will form beads at the very edge of the milk). Remove from heat, remove bay leaves, and allow to cool slightly.
  6. In a medium bowl or top of double boiler, beat eggs with sugar. Pour cream mixture in a thin stream into eggs, whisking. When combined, place mixture over (not in) simmering water in base of double boiler and whisk constantly until custard thickens slightly and coats the back of a wooden spoon. A finger drawn across the custard on the spoon will leave a clear path. Strain sauce into a bowl, cover surface with plastic wrap, and place in refrigerator to chill. Allow to ripen 1 day to meld flavors.
  1. For the poached pears
  2. In a saucepan or kettle large enough to hold the the pears, combine water, sugar, lemon juice, bay leaves, vanilla bean and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve sugar.
  3. Carefully arrange pears on their sides in bottom of pan, add enough additional water to just barely cover, return heat to simmer, and reduce heat.
  4. Poach until cooked through and tender, about 35-45 minutes. Remove pears to a heatproof dish and continue simmering syrup until it is thickened and measures about 1 cup. Pour syrup over pears and cool to room temperature, or, alternatively, chill in refrigerator. Serve pears with Crème Anglaise as an accompaniment

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • aargersi
  • creamtea
  • fiveandspice

4 Reviews

aargersi November 6, 2012
I love everything about this - the vanilla / saffron combo, pears, cream, kind of fancy but not fussy. Just right!
creamtea November 7, 2012
Thank you aargersi! I like your characterization!
creamtea November 5, 2012
Why thank you, 5&S!
fiveandspice November 5, 2012
This sounds so lovely! I've been thinking about vanilla-saffron as a combination, and also love vanilla-pear, so this sounds like perfection.