Sticky Caramelised Pears with Cardamom Custard

I was going through some recipes and came across one for caramelised figs. So, when I saw some juicy pears at the market, I decided to try and do the same with them. Pears are so versatile and are perfect with pastry, salad and puddings. This dessert looks so elegant and it’s really easy to make. Just the thing for a special dinner party!

I decided to pair the caramelised pears with a baked custard. The nice thing about baking a custard is that you can just fill the ramekins and pop them in the oven. So easy! I used cardamom powder to sprinkle on the tops of the custard. When I turned out the custard, the cardamom was nicely settled at the bottom and looked beautiful.

Absolutely delicious – succulent pears coated with this gooey, melted caramel sauce and the subtly flavoured cardamom custard. Just yummy!

Recipe:

Caramelised Pears:

8 small pears

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 cup butter

1/4 cup castor sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar, packed firmly

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon vanilla essence

A pinch of salt

For the Cardamom Custard:

2 cups milk

1/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

A pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

1 teaspoon cardamom powder

Method (Pears):

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Peel the pears leaving the stalk intact. Cut in half and remove the core. Rub the pears with the lemon juice.

Melt the butter in an oven proof frying pan. Add both the sugars and stir, but do not let it dissolve. Put the pears into the mixture with the cut side facing downwards. Spoon the melted sugar mixture over them occasionally. Put the pan into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes, taking care to baste the pears from time to time.

Remove the pan from the oven and flip the pears carefully. Bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the cores are golden and the pears are cooked through. Transfer the pears to another dish and place the frying pan on heat. Cook the mixture for a few minutes until it is a rich golden brown. Add the honey, salt and vanilla and mix well. Remove from heat.

Method (Cardamom Custard):

Scald the milk. Combine the sugar, eggs, salt and vanilla in a large mixing bowl and beat well. Add the milk to the egg mixture gradually (you do not want to cook the eggs). Beat until smooth and pour the custard into 4 ramekins; place the ramekins in a shallow pan in hot water. Sprinkle the custard with the cardamom powder. Bake at 180C for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Cool and turn out carefully while serving. Serve with the pears and spoon the caramel on top.

Poached Mangoes with Strawberry Coulis

My friend Beryl was an amazing and passionate cook who was very generous with her time and her recipes. She was warm and friendly, and really loved to feed people. She was one of my earliest food influencers.

She passed away some years ago, but I was blessed to continue to cook the recipes she gave me; my love for food I passed on to my own daughter. When Beryl taught me this recipe, she used a thinned down version of her own blueberry jam as a topping, but I decided to try it with a strawberry coulis instead. The combination of the luscious mangoes cooked in spicy sugar syrup and the strawberries are amazing. It’s a dessert that can be put together very easily, even if you’re tired and pressed for time; serve it and watch the compliments flow in.

Fresh mangoes are the best for this recipe. You can use any type of mango. The mango needs to be a little ripe, but not completely so.

 

Cut the mango lengthwise with a sharp knife. You have to remember not to overcook the mangoes, or they will turn mushy and break apart. They should be al dente.

What a lovely burst of colour on the plate — yellow and strawberry pink. You can also serve this dessert with vanilla ice cream.

Recipe:

1 mango, peeled and sliced lengthwise

1/2 cup white granulated sugar

1/4 cup water

2 sticks of cinnamon

1 clove

For the coulis:

1 cup strawberries

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method:

Heat the sugar, water, and spices in a pan over medium heat, while stirring constantly. When the sugar has melted completely, add the mangoes and cook gently for around 5 minutes.

Test the mango pieces with a knife; they should be al dente. Remove from heat and cool. Retain the sugar syrup to use in other recipes or to poach other fruits; it will keep well in the fridge.

To make the coulis, blitz the strawberries and the sugar in a food processor. I like my coulis a little chunky; you can blitz to a smooth puree if you prefer. Stir in the lemon juice.

Serve on a bed of strawberry coulis, with some coulis drizzled on top, as shown.