Friday, January 16, 2009

Pear Creme Brulee

Chances are your parent's favorite dessert to order in a restaurant is Creme Brulee. It seems like a daunting and horribly time consuming task that can only be accomplished with professional grade equipment. Well, the sad news is that most home cooking equipment is of better quality than most kitchen equipment and most professional cooks have no more skill than the average home cook. They do have far more burns, cuts, and scrapes though, which must amount for something. The digression ends and on to the dish at hand...Pear Creme Brulee.

This is not a 30 minute meal, in fact it is not even a 60 minute meal, however it is not difficult nor is there a lot of hands on time. This recipe is an adaptation from a Creme Brulee recipe from Le Cirque, one of the World's greatest restaurants. The only hope is that this does it justice. You will notice that this version uses a deeper ramekin, as that is what was on hand. The pear flavor is subtle, but noticeable. This can be enjoyed on its on or used as a component in a larger more ambitious dessert such as the one in the last picture (Pear Creme Brulee, Ruby Port Poached Seckel Pear with Ice Cream made from the Poaching Liquid). Recipes for the rest of that will follow this post.
2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream is added to a Sauce Pan and placed over Medium-Low Heat

The Heavy Cream is brought to a simmer with diced Pears, Vanilla, and Salt

While the Cream is heating, Whisk together Eggs, Sugar and Honey in a Metal Mixing Bowl

The simmering Cream mixture

The various Custard filled Ramekins in the Oven in a Water Bath

The Baked Custard cooling on a Wire Rack

Pear Dessert Trio, Port Poached Pear, Pear Creme Brulee and Poached Pear Ice Cream

General Notes
4 servings if using 6 ounce Ramekins
Total Time: 4 1/2 Hours, Hands on Time: 20 - 30 minutes
The Pears are separated out in the ingredients as their omission and eliminating any pear related steps, will yield a plain vanilla creme brulee.

2 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract or if you Roll Deep 1/2 Vanilla Bean, split lengthwise
4 Egg Yolks
1/3 cup Sugar
2 Tbsp Honey
Pinch of Kosher Salt
4 additional tbsp sugar for topping

2 Pears, as always the best quality that you can find and your budget allows

Written Instructions
  • Preheat your oven to 300 degrees
  • Fill a kettle or pot of water and begin heating it to a simmer while working on the rest
  • Peel, Core and Dice the 2 Pears and momentarily set aside
  • In a medium Sauce Pan combine the Cream, Vanilla, Salt and Pears and bring to a simmer over medium heat
  • While the Cream mixture is heating, combine the Egg Yolks, 1/3 cup Sugar and Honey in a metal mixing bowl
  • Whisk the Egg Yolk mixture together until well blended and lightened in color
  • Remove the Cream mixture from the stove when it has just begun to simmer and add it to a blender, or food processor, put the lid on but not all the way and cover the lid with a towel (This is to puree the pear and release even more Pearness). Also make sure that the Cream mixture does not fill more than half of the blender/processor. Other wise you can find yourself covered in HOT Cream in a very bad way when the blender/processor starts up
  • CAREFULLY turn the blender/processor onto its lowest setting and blend until smooth
  • A little at a time (maybe a quarter of a cup), add the hot cream mixture into the egg mixture taking care not to scramble the eggs by adding too much hot cream the first time
  • Once you have added maybe half of the hot Cream mixture to the eggs, at which point the eggs should be pretty hot but not scrambled, feel free to add the hot Cream mixture more aggressively. Oh, and by the way this is basically "Tempering the Eggs"
  • Next, strain the custard through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into a vessel suitable for pouring
  • With any luck your water is simmering and your oven is preheated at this point so put your ramekins into a high sided oven safe pan that is water tight and comfortably accommodates the ramekins
  • Add the custard base into the ramekins filling them to just below the top of the ramekin
  • Open the oven and keep the door completely open, slide the middle rack out about half way, ensuring that it will hold the weight of the pan etc.
  • Place the custard filled ramekins on the oven rack and add your simmering water to the pan such that the water comes about halfway up the sides of the ramekins
  • Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake for about 1 hour
  • Remove the whole operation when the custard is firm at the edges but still a little wobbly in the middle. It will have some more carry over cooking to finish up after you take it out
  • With an oven safe mitt, remove the ramekins to a wire rack to let them cool
  • When cooler, cover individually and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to 3 days
  • When ready to enjoy and they are very cool and set up, turn on the broiler of your oven or break out the blow torch
  • Put one tablespoon of Sugar onto each custard and broil right under the burner until the sugar is bubbly and lightly browned, or torch them spinning the whole while ensure even browning
  • Turn off the Broiler and carefully remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly
  • Time to make it happen in your tum tum, and please be sure to crack the sugar topping with a spoon. it is one of the greatest but most simple pleasures.


  1. That sounds pretty damn complicated, but I must say they came out so delicious that I might have to attempt making them anyway.

  2. It is easier than it looks. The directions are trying to be precise to make it more clear what to do. However, some easier things are on the way if this seems too tricky.

  3. Most home cooks do not have the same skills as professional cooks. People, like myself, train for years to work in restaurants. I am currently in my 6th year of culinary education, and can tell you for sure that any home cook who thinks they can work on a professional level needs a reality check.

  4. Anonymous,
    True as it is a trade. A home welder will also not be as skilled as a professional welder. It is naive to think that most home cooks think of themselves as being as skilled as professional cooks. Hence, a blog that it is written with home cooks in mind. Good luck with your culinary degree and remember that not all cooks share your dedication or passion for the culinary arts.