Spring pear ice cream

Spring pear ice cream        

Who can resist this delicate flavoured pear ice cream in early spring?   It is one of my favourite recipes and is best made with British grown  pears such as Doyenné du Comice, Williams’ Bon Chrétien or Concord, a cross between the two. American readers might like to know that  Williams’ pears are sold under the name of Bartlett in America as in 1817, Mr Bartlett was unaware of it’s English heritage.  

If you want a deeper, more fruity flavour, use Calvados rather than Poire William.   The apple notes enhance the fragrance of the pear.  

Serves 6

juice of 1 lemon

500g/1lb 2oz Doyenne du Comice, Concord or Williams` pears

300ml/11 fl oz double cream

4 egg yolks

140g/5oz caster sugar

3 tablespoons Poire William or Calvados

Place the lemon juice in a non-corrosive saucepan.   Peel, quarter and core the first pear.   Roughly chop and toss in the lemon juice.   Repeat the process with the remaining pears. The lemon juice brings out the flavour of the pears in the ice cream, and its acidity ensures that the pears collapse into a smooth puree.  

Cover and set over a low heat for 5 minutes or until the pears begin to release some juice.   Increase the heat slightly and simmer for 15 minutes or until very tender.   Puree and place in a large bowl.

Pour the cream into a saucepan, bring up to boiling point, then remove from the heat.  

Whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until thick and pale, then slowly whisk in the hot cream.   Return to the pan and set over a low heat.   Stir continuously in a figure of eight with a wooden spoon, until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon. This will take between 10-20 minutes, depending on your confidence.   Don’t let it boil, or the custard will split. If it feels like it’s getting too hot, just lift the pan off the heat and keep stirring.

As soon as it is ready, strain through a sieve into the pear puree.   Mix in the 3 tablespoons Poire William or Calvados.   Once cool, cover and chill.

Churn the cold custard according to the instructions for your ice cream machine until it reaches a soft set.   Transfer to a covered container and store in the freezer.   Alternatively, pour into a shallow plastic container, cover and freeze.   Beat with a fork every 40 minutes until you have a smooth, soft-set ice cream.

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