Thursday, October 9, 2008

Sugar, Spice and Everything Nice

Adventures in pastry continue, and one of the recipes I would like to share is a Chai Crème Anglaise. The cream and milk are infused with chai spices and the resulting sauce is rich, velvety and delicious. This sauce goes really well with fruit-based desserts.

Chai Crème Anglaise
8.5 oz. milk
8.5 oz cream
1 cinnamon stick
½ tsp. ginger powder
½ tsp. whole cardamom seed
4 whole cloves
½ vanilla been split and seeds scraped
4 oz. sugar
4 egg yolks

Heat milk, cream, spices, vanilla bean and half the amount of sugar. When the liquid simmers turn off the heat and cover pot to allow the flavors to infuse for at least 45 minutes.

After the liquid has infused, put back on the heat. In a separate bowl beat together the eggs and sugar by hand until pale – this takes a minute or so.

Temper the sugar/yolk mixture by adding some warm milk infusion then return this mixture back to the pot. Cook until the Crème Anglaise is very thick and coats the back of a spoon. Working over moderately high heat, continue stirring the sauce with a wooden spoon so as to keep the mixture moving.

Strain Crème Anglaise through a fine Chinois and immediately cool sauce in an ice bath. Once sauce is brought down in temperature then refrigerate until needed.

Our pear dessert begins by poaching the fruit in a chai-tea liquid until soft. Once the pears have cooked, they are removed and set to cool. Afterwards the pear half is topped with a small piece of pear bread and covered with Swiss meringue. The pears are then baked to give the meringue a beautiful bronzed color.

At service, the pear is warmed slightly in the oven, a pool of Crème Anglaise fills a shallow bowl the pear is placed in the center and a drizzle of pear sauce is added with some toasted pine nuts. All the hard work making all the separate components come together beautifully and the real satisfaction is watching the empty dessert plates coming back from the dining room.

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