If you’ve never eaten pear soufflé you really should try this one. The flavor and texture are really seductive. I was first served a similar dessert at my first-ever Michelin-starred dinner at Léon de Lyon in France many years ago. It was so wonderful I had to re-create it. They had prepared the individual soufflés more as little floating islands, and they were brought to the table on a platter with the sauce on the side. I found it easier to make them in individual ramekins. —ChefJune
In a saucepan, combine 1 1/3 cups of the sugar with 3 cups of water. Bring to the simmer and cook until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat.
Peel, core and quarter the pears. Place them in the saucepan adding a little more water if necessary, so they are just covered with the syrup. Simmer gently until the pears are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and drain. Discard the syrup (or save it for another adventure).
Dice eight quarters of the pears. Purée the rest in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Return the purée to a saucepan and cook until it is reduced to about 2 cups. Set the diced pears aside.
In a saucepan, dissolve 2/3 cup of the sugar in 1/3 cup water. Cook over medium heat without stirring, until the mixture reaches the hard-crack stage, 300 degrees F. on a candy thermometer. This is just before the sugar turns to caramel.
Immediately pour the hot sugar into the warm pear purée and stir. Add the salt and pear eau de vie. Let this mixture cool before making the soufflés.
Butter eight one-cup soufflé dishes and dust them with 1/4 cup of sugar. Divide the diced pears between the dishes. The soufflé can be prepared ahead up to this point.
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Beat the egg whites with 2 tablespoons sugar until they hold firm peaks but are still creamy. Fold egg whites into the pear purée, and spoon the mixture into each of the prepared soufflé dishes.
Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until the soufflés are puffed and nicely browned. Run under the broiler for about 45 seconds until the tops are lightly browned (or brown the tops with a blowtorch).
The Pear Coulis
Slice the pears about 1/4-inch thick
Bring the pears, sugar, water and lemon juice to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the pears are tender, about 20 minutes. Cover and continue simmering the remaining pears until very soft, about 20 minutes more. If the pears are watery, cook them a bit longer to reduce the water content of your coulis.
Process the pear mixture in a food processor with the metal blade until very smooth, about 20 seconds. Return the mixture to the saucepan and add the pear brandy.
The Pear Coulis can be made ahead and refrigerated, tightly covered, for up to 5 days. Gently reheat before serving, thinning with additional water, if necessary
Garnish with Toasted Pear Chips: Core and quarter 2 pears. Do not peel!!! With a very sharp potato peeler, shave very thin slices of pear lengthwise. Put the pear slivers on a baking sheet and let dry out in a 275 degree F. oven for about 12 minutes. These can be made ahead.