SERVES – 8
PREPARATION – 75 MINS
COOKING – 150 MINS
SKILL LEVEL – ACE
400 g tinned pears in syrup, drained
100 g egg white (about 4 eggs)
200 g caster sugar
60 g (⅓ cup) blanched almonds
150 g (1 cup) plain flour
45 g caster sugar
1 tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground cinnamon
125 g cold unsalted butter, chopped
½ tsp vanilla extract
75 g slivered pistachios
175 ml yuzu juice (see note)
1 tbsp cold cream gel (see note)
70 g brown sugar
125 g caster sugar
3 large eggwhites
sweet paprika, for dusting
Orange blossom egg custard
400 g caster sugar
2 tbsp orange blossom water
8 egg yolks
thyme flowers, optional, to garnish
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Freezing time 3 hours
Chilling time 2 hours
To make the pear sorbet, puree the pears until smooth. Place the pear puree and the egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and beat on medium speed until the mixture doubles in size.
Place the sugar and 100 ml water in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to boil and cook until the syrup reaches 115-118°C on a sugar thermometer. Reduce the mixer speed to low, then gradually pour the syrup onto the pear mixture. When all the syrup has been added, increase the speed to high and beat for 3-4 minutes or until cold. Transfer to a container and freeze for 2-3 hours or until set.
Meanwhile, to make the clove powder, preheat the oven to 140°C. Place the almonds in a food processor and blitz until finely ground. Add the flour, sugar, clove and cinnamon and process until well combined. Add the butter and vanilla and pulse until the dough comes together, then add the pistachios and pulse just until combined. Press the dough out onto a baking paper-lined baking tray until 1 cm thick. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly coloured, then remove from the oven and stand until cool. Break the shortbread into pieces, then process in a food processor until fine crumbs form. This will keep stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.
To make the yuzu puree, combine the juice and gel with a hand-held mixer until smooth and thickened. Transfer to a squeezy bottle and refrigerate until needed.
To make the paprika meringue, preheat the oven to 120°C. Lightly grease two baking trays and line with baking paper.
Place the brown sugar, caster sugar and 100 ml water in a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Simmer until the syrup reaches 115°C on a sugar thermometer. While the syrup is cooking, using an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until soft peaks form. With the motor on high speed, gradually pour in the hot syrup in a thin, steady stream until well combined. Continue whisking until the meringue is completely cooled. Spoon the meringue into a piping bag fitted with a 1 cm nozzle and pipe into whatever shapes you like, leaving room in between each to allow room for the meringues to expand. Place the paprika in a fine sieve and dust over the top of the meringues. Bake for 1¼ hours or until dry underneath, but still soft in the centre. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
To make the egg custard, increase the oven temperature to 150°C. Place 150 g of caster sugar in a small saucepan over medium-low heat and cook, shaking often, until it melts and becomes a dark but not burnt caramel (see note). Pour into a 20 cm x 10 cm rectangular cake tin, tilting to coat the base, then set aside.
Place the remaining sugar in a small saucepan with the orange blossom water and 125 ml (½ cup) water. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves, then simmer until the syrup reaches 104°C on a sugar thermometer.
While the syrup is cooking, place the egg yolks in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk until well combined. With the motor running, gradually pour in the hot syrup and continue whisking until the mixture is thick and cool. Pour the mixture into the caramel-lined mould and place in a deep baking tray. Place the tray in the oven, the pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the dish. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until custard is just set. Carefully remove the custard from the water bath and stand until cooled to room temperature. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours. To serve, invert onto a plate and cut into squares.
To serve, run a small, sharp knife around the edge of the custard, then cover with a tray and invert the custard. Cut into squares, then place on serving plates and sprinkle with a few thyme flowers, if using. Top with a quenelle of pear sorbet, a sprinkling of clove powder, a spoonful of yuzu puree and a paprika meringue. Serve immediately.
Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit and while it is difficult to find fresh in Australia, you can buy the bottled juice from Japanese supermarkets.
Also sold as Ultra Tex, cold cream gel is a powdered tapioca starch used to emulsify and thicken cold liquids and requires no heating. Available from specialist food stores and online from The Melbourne Food Ingredient Depot.
When making the caramel for the flan, try to cook it as dark as you can without burning it as it will really help cut through the richness of the custard. Cooking the custard in a water bath provides a gentle, even and consistent heat. Place the baking dish on the oven shelf before filling it with boiling water from the kettle. It is safer and easier and prevents spilling.