By Chef & Owner at the Pear Tree, Scott Jaeger
I was a 17-year-old apprentice at La Belle Auberge—out in Ladner, BC, on the south bank of the Fraser River—when I had a big culinary moment.
What happened was that the chef garde manger handed me a perfectly ripe pear to taste. How I got to that age without knowing the pleasure of a ripe pear, I don’t know. But until that moment, I thought of pears as tasteless, green, rock-hard bullets. Suddenly I realized that given a little time and patience, Mother Nature could really flex her muscles with a pear, and deliver something incredible. If you coax that pear just a little further—by poaching it— you are looking at what I think is culinary perfection.
– Scott Jaeger
- 500 g sugar
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ½ vanilla pod, scraped
- 4 medium ripe pears (preferably Okanagan Bartlett’s)
- 100 g (4 oz) cold butter
- 80 g (3 oz) muscovado sugar
- 40 g (1 ½ oz) ground toasted hazelnuts
- 125 g (4 ½ oz) flour
- Pinch of salt
- 250 g (9 oz) sugar
- Small squeeze of lemon juice
- 375 mL (1 ½ cups) whipping cream
- ½ vanilla pod, scraped
- 1 pinch of cinnamon
In a medium sauce pan or sauté pan, whisk together 1 L (1 quart) of water, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla. Carefully peel the pears one at a time, maintaining their natural shape. Split lengthwise and remove core with a melon baller. Remove stems with a paring knife. Then immediately submerge the pears in the liquid in the pot (or they will turn brown). When all the pears are in the pot, cut a cartouche of parchment paper to sit on top of the liquid, and bring to a simmer. Gently stir, and check pear for tenderness (if they are ripe, simmering for 60 seconds will be adequate). Remove from heat and let pears cool in their poaching liquid.
Preheat oven to 160°C (325°F).
To make the crumble, cut the butter into cubes and let sit on the counter for 10 minutes. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer equipped with a paddle. Add the sugar and mix on low until smooth. Add the nuts and flour and continue to mix until a crumbly texture is attained. Transfer mixture to a baking sheet. If any large clumps form, pass them through your fingers to break them up. Bake, stirring now and then with a spatula, until crisp and golden—about 15 minutes. Set aside.
To make the caramel, combine sugar and 60 mL (¼ cup) of water in a saucepan, add the lemon juice, and stir over low heat. When the mixture thickens and turns amber, add the cream. Cook for 60 seconds more, then remove from heat and whisk in the vanilla and cinnamon.
To finish, arrange pears flat side down in a sauté pan and add caramel sauce. Heat on low, and baste. Continue until pears are glazed and completely heated through. Sprinkle 1 to 2 tbsp of hazelnut crumble at the centre of each dessert plate. With a slotted spoon or an offset spatula place a pear half on top. Sprinkle with more hazelnut crumble and top with vanilla ice cream.