With the exception of the video (still in the works), I’ve had this ready since the first week of June! I have not been putting this off, I promise – I’ve been waiting and waiting to share this with you and get back to blogging, which I’ve missed so much, after I was done school. I’m not completely done yet but I can now at least spend some more time and attention to my interests, including here.
I was inspired to try something a bit different when I snacked on raw pear slices, dipping in a dairy-free pastry cream that I made for cream puffs (which, by the way, I am still working on perfecting), and thought how it would taste if I poached the pears. The raw pears tasted great with the pastry cream, but the pears were still at that stage where they’re quite firm and still have that bit of crunch to them. I didn’t mind, but I usually like raw pears when they’ve been left to soften and ripen longer, when they’re juicy, when the skin practically slides off when it’s peeled.
I adapted the pastry cream from Simply…Gluten-Free. The only adjustment I made was replacing the sugar with honey. Despite the coconut milk used, there is hardly a trace of a coconut-y flavour. Seriously. It’s very much like dairy pastry cream. I also did some further experimenting with the pastry cream, wondering if I could make it SCD, too, by using coconut flour instead of cornstarch and it worked. There is practically no difference in taste or texture.
After the pastry cream is made, this is an easy and simple dessert to put together. If you don’t feel like turning on the stove to poach the pears (summer is here, after all), just slice up some pears, leaving the skin on or off like this, and dip it in the pastry cream or chop the pear slices and serve it in a bowl with the pastry cream.
Since I am hosting this month’s Go Ahead Honey, It’s Gluten-Free, I have so many other dairy-free recipes (both sweet and savoury) in store that I hope to share with you all. They’re all simple and easy, too. Of course, I’ll continue sharing them even after this month’s deadline but there are some in particular that I want to share during this month’s GAHIGF. If you’re interested in participating, the deadline is June 25th, 2010 and your recipe has to be dairy-free. Read the rest of the details here. I hope to see you in the round-up!
Poached Pears and Pastry Cream
Serves 1 or 2 (one or both halves per person)
Although I’ve specified that this makes one or two servings, it can be stretched if the poached pear halves are cut up and served in bowls with the pastry cream, or simply just poach more pears as needed and serve the halves.
If your pears are a little softer than the firmness specified here, they can still be used. Just adjust the poaching time. I simply used the pears that I had on hand.
1 ripe, firm pear
About 1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/4 tsp. orange extract (optional)
Dairy-free pastry cream (recipe follows)
Slice the pear in half, lengthwise, and core using a melon baller. Melt the honey in a small pot over medium heat, when it starts bubbling pour in the water and add spices and extracts. Cook for a few minutes, until you can smell the fragrance of the spices. Place the pear halves in the liquid and lower to a simmer. Cook the pear halves until a pointed knife can easily penetrate, without resistance. They should be soft, but not mushy. Remove from heat and cool. Serve with the pastry cream and enjoy!
Dairy-Free Pastry Cream
Adapted from Simply…Gluten-Free
When I first made it, I halved the recipe and out of tiredness or not paying attention, I reduced the honey to 1/8 cup when really it should have been 1/4 cup (the original recipe specified 1/2 cup sugar; honey is twice as sweet so when substituting for sugar, half the amount is used). It was still sweet enough, though.
This makes a half recipe. Instead of pastry cream, you could also use custard.
1 cup coconut milk
1/8 tsp. salt
3 egg yolks
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 tbsp. cornstarch or 3/4 tbsp. coconut flour
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
Bring the coconut milk and salt to a boil in a small pot. This will happen very quickly and it will splatter, so keep an eye on it. Remove from heat.
Beat the egg yolks until light yellow and thick, about 3 minutes. Mix in the honey, and beat in the cornstarch or coconut flour. While whisking, pour the hot coconut milk into the egg yolks. Try lowering the pot into the bowl as much as possible to reduce any possible spattering. Pour the liquid back into the pot used to boil the coconut milk and cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, until thickened and/or starts coming back to a boil. Continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Do not continue cooking over the 2-minute mark, or the cornstarch will lose its effectiveness. If using coconut flour, it will not reach the same thickness as using cornstarch would, although it will continue thickening when it’s refrigerated. (With that said, the pastry cream made with coconut flour ultimately ends up thicker than the one made with cornstarch.)
Remove from heat and stir in the extracts. Strain using a fine sieve or another similar means (I used a stainless steel food cover and it worked), into a clean bowl and cover with plastic wrap, placing it directly on the surface of the pastry cream so that a skin doesn’t develop. Refrigerate until cold and thickened, about 2 to 3 hours.