Aoife Noonan's caramelised pears with pain d’Épices and vanilla crème Chantilly

Heat the sugar in a pan over a low heat to make a dry caramel. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Heat the sugar in a pan over a low heat to make a dry caramel. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Sat, Dec 12, 2015, 01:00

  • Serves: 6
  • Cooking Time: 60 mins
  • Course: Dessert
  • Cuisine: French


  • Serves sixPain d’épices:100ml milk
  • 200g honey
  • 150g rye flour
  • 150g plain flour
  • 75g brown sugar
  • 25g baking powder
  • 75g diced butter
  • 2 eggs
  • Zest of 2 oranges and 2 lemons
  • 5g ground ginger
  • 5g ground anise
  • 5g ground cinnamon
  • 2g ground nutmeg
  • 2g ground cumin
  • Vanilla crème Chantilly:400ml cream
  • 25g sugar
  • 2 vanilla pods, seeds scraped out
  • 100g natural yoghurt
  • Caramelised pears:3 pears
  • 200g sugar
  • 30g cubed butter
  • 20ml Poire William liqueur


PAIN D’ÉPICES: Preheat the oven to 160 degrees/gas 3. Warm the milk in a small saucepan and add the honey and butter. Stir to dissolve.

Mix the flours, sugar, baking powder, spices and zests together in a bowl. Add the eggs and stir to combine. Pour in the warmed milk and mix until just combined.

Butter a loaf tin and pour the mix into the tin. Bake for 45-50 minutes. Leave the loaf in the tin to cool for 20 minutes before removing. The loaf can be frozen at this stage or chilled until required.

PAIN D’ÉPICES CRISPS: Lower the oven to 150 degrees/gas 2. Slice the loaf into 3mm slices using a sharp knife. (This is best done when the loaf is completely cold). Cut the slices into the desired shape and place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Brush the slices with a syrup made from boiling 100ml water and 50g sugar.

Bake in the oven for eight minutes before lowering the temperature to 120 degrees/ Gas ½ and bake for a further 10 minutes. Set aside and leave to cool. The slices will crisp up as they cool.

VANILLA CRÈME CHANTILLY: Whip all the ingredients together to a soft peak and chill until required. Reserve the scrapped out vanilla pods, cut in half lengthways.

PEARS: Peel and halve the pears lengthways. Scoop out the core using a spoon or melon ball cutter. Score the cut-side edges of the pears in a criss-cross pattern and set aside.

Heat the sugar in a pan over a low heat to make a dry caramel. When the sugar begins to caramelise, add the butter and the halved pears, cut side down.

Cook the pears in the caramel for four to five minutes, until they are soft, turning regularly. The cooking time will depend on the ripeness of the pears. Add the scraped vanilla pods to the pan. Add the liqueur and remove from the heat.

PLATE UP: Arrange half a pear on each plate. Place a square of pain d’Épice crisp beside the pear and top with a spoon of crème Chantilly. Arrange another crisp on top and garnish each plate with the vanilla pod and some caramel sauce from the pan.