Pear Ice Cream & Stilton

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Pear Ice Cream & Stilton

I received for Christmas the KitchenAid ice cream maker attachment, and so I've been thinking of what I'd make with it. By chance, Shuna discussed pear ice cream recently as she's using it at Sens, I assume. Her recipe sounded pretty great: poach the pears, puree the pears, reduce the syrup, combine with creme anglaise, and freeze.

The creme anglaise was straightforward from the Joy of Cooking. I didn't have any cream around so I used whole milk. I just made 2 cups of it, since I didn't really know how the proportions would work out. I realized it probably wouldn't thicken as much as I wanted with the ratio of eggs to milk I used, so I accidentally overcooked it and it curdled. I poured it off and ran my hand blender through it and all was well. Phew.

I poached 4 pears ala Chez Panisse: Fruit. Simmer a 2:1:1 mix of white wine, water, and sugar, add some vanilla bean and lemon juice, submerge the pears, put a plate on them to hold them under, and simmer until a paring knife slices through the pear flesh with no resistance.

Creme Anglaise and Poached Pears

I pureed the pears with, again, my hand blender (seriously, how did I ever cook without one?) as the poaching syrup reduced.

The poaching syrup reduced slowly but steadily and darkened to a deep amber color even though it never exceeded 235F. I'm not quite sure why this is; maybe a lot of fructose got pulled out of the pears? Or maybe fructose was left in the white wine if it wasn't terribly dry? I'm kind of grasping at straws, here. Sucrose, the sugar I added to the poaching liquid, shouldn't brown until 320F and it obviously was nowhere near that. But it was deep amber color and had the distinct taste of sugar browning, not Maillard browning or something wacky like that. Fructose browns at something like 220F or 230F, so that would explain it, but I'm just not clear on where the fructose would have come from.

Anyway, the poaching syrup, reduced, was delicious.

Pear Poaching Liquid

I ended up with more than I needed, and saved the leftovers. I often eat yogurt with a drizzle of honey; I find that yogurt with a drizzle of this thick pear-poaching syrup (not quite as thick as honey, but close) is especially delicious.

I mixed about 2c creme anglaise and enough pureed pear to bring it to almost 2 quarts (this was all 4 pears, pureed.) I added about 2/3c of the reduced poaching liquid. Then I froze it.

Churning Pear Ice Cream

It really didn't freeze up so well. I guess there was a lot of sugar in it. And probably still a fair amount of white wine, although that flavor doesn't really come through in the finished dessert. But after half an hour in the ice cream maker, it still took several hours in the freezer to solidify. On the upside, it softens nicely if left out for just 5 minutes or so.

The flavor is fantastic. Quoth Shuna, "very pear-y, I must say." That's for sure. I'm glad I went easy on the vanilla and lemon in the poaching. The resulting ice cream really tastes very clearly of pear, not of some artificial sugared-up poached pear. It's light and refreshing, but also indulgent. Really, it tastes seriously delicious.

Next time I'd double the volume of creme anglaise and use fewer pears, and probably less of the poaching syrup. The pear flavor is really unmistakably strong and in no danger of being diluted with a lighter fruit mix. And the resulting ice cream is halfway to a sorbet since about 75% of the volume of it is just pear puree. It's a bit icy when fully frozen, but nicely smooth and creamy when thawed a bit. But it's certainly not creamy in the way that normal ice cream is. Maybe next time I'll use heavy cream in the creme anglaise, too.

I ate the ice cream with little bits of Stilton cheese on the side, in the classic pairing. The rich creaminess of the Stilton actually goes pretty well with the less-thick, less-creamy nature of this pear ice cream.

Pear Ice Cream & Stilton


At January 14, 2008 4:28 PM , Blogger Roberto N. said...

You could also try making a salted-caramel Ice cream and toss some poached pear pieces into it. It could make an interesting pairing with the cheese.


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