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Baked Pear Custard

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Baked Pear Custard
Fresh fruit is often served with a custard sauce, like creme anglais, but this Baked Pear Custard combines the two long before it makes it to your plate. It’s an easy and elegant way to dress up some fresh pears – and for a pear fan like me, this dessert makes it into my rotation on a regular basis.

The dessert starts with two firm, ripe pears. Bartlett pears are a great choice and are one of my favorites for baking, but other types of pears can be used, as well. I prefer to use firmer pears because they are easier to peel and handle – and they soften up in the oven nicely. The pears are sliced and arranged in a baking dish, then sprinkled with a bit of sugar and cinnamon before being topped with a vanilla-scented custard mixture.

Think of this dessert as a crustless pie, since custard fillings like these are not typically baked alone. Eliminating the crust makes the dessert much quicker and easier to make – though you’ll still want to chill it thoroughly after it comes out of the oven to allow the custard to set up completely. I baked mine in an 8-inch round casserole dish, which gave it a pretty, rustic presentation. You can also easily bake this in a 9-inch pie plate. The baking time will be a couple of minutes longer with a straight-sided dish like the one shown here, but I’ve given the baking time for a pie plate below. Don’t opt for lower fat versions of the dairy in this recipe, as the custard won’t set up as well with nonfat or non-dairy milks.

Since this custard is not baked in a water bath, it is important not to overbake it. A custard is set when it jiggles evenly when the pan is gently shaken. If it appears to be very wet or liquidy in the center, it needs a few additional minutes in the oven. It will set up completely as it cools, so don’t worry if it doesn’t look all that “firm” when you first take it out.

Baked Pear Custard
2 firm, ripe pears, such as Bartlett
1/3 cup sugar, divided
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
3/4 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 400F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate.
Peel and core the pears, and cut each into 6 wedges. Arrange in a single layer in pie plate, there will be space between the pears. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp sugar and cinnamon.
Whisk together remaining sugar, heavy cream, whole milk, vanilla extract and eggs. Pour the custard over the pears.
Bake for 10 minutes, then turn heat down to 325F and bake for an additional 20 minutes, or until custard is just set and still jiggles when gently shaken. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate until cold.

Serves 6-8

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