- 2 teaspoons plus 2/3 cup sugar
- Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
- 1⁄4 cup sifted flour (sift before measuring)
- 3⁄4 cup heavy cream
- 3⁄4 cup whole milk
- 1 tablespoon pear brandy
- Pinch of finely grated star anise (use a Microplane grater)
- 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 ripe Bartlett pears
- Finely grated lime zest, for garnish (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Arrange the gratin dishes on two rimmed baking sheets.
Stir together the 2 teaspoons of sugar and the seeds from the vanilla bean in a small bowl. Use the butter to grease the gratin dishes, then sprinkle them evenly with the vanilla sugar.
Combine the eggs and the remaining 2/3 cup sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer; beat on medium speed, until well incorporated. Reduce the speed to low; add the flour, cream, milk and brandy, beating to form a smooth batter.
Whisk in the pinch of star anise and the salt by hand; let the batter mixture sit for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, peel the pears and cut them in half lengthwise. Discard the stems. Use a melon baller to core the pear halves, then cut each half crosswise into 1/4-inch slices, keeping the shape of the pear half intact. Carefully transfer each half to a gratin dish, placing it flat side down at the center. You can fan the slices out slightly to fill the dish. Fill in the sides with any extra pieces of pear.
Divide the batter evenly among the dishes; the pears should be only partially immersed. Bake (middle rack) for 40 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned.
Serve hot or warm, sprinkled with the lime zest, if using.
Adapted from “Cook Like a Pro: Recipes and Tips for Home Cooks,” by Ina Garten (Clarkson Potter, 2018).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick; email questions to email@example.com.
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Calories: 360; Total Fat: 17 g; Saturated Fat: 10 g; Cholesterol: 155 mg; Sodium: 220 mg; Carbohydrates: 46 g; Dietary Fiber: 1 g; Sugars: 38 g; Protein: 6 g.