This elegant dessert showcases four dimensions of pear flavor and texture: frozen (sorbet), cooked (compote), liquid (a reduced, syrupy sauce) and fresh (pear slices garnish the finished dessert). Have a pear on hand to use as a garnish for the finished desserts.
Make Ahead: The simple syrup can be prepared several days ahead and refrigerated. The sorbet should be made at least 1 day in advance. The compote can be prepared 1 day in advance.
Servings: 6 - 8
- For the compote
- 3 cups water
- 1 1/2 cups dry white wine, such as chardonnay
- 1 1/2 cups Whey Low sugar substitute or sugar (see headnote in related recipe)
- 8 medium Bosc or Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
- 1-inch piece peeled ginger root, cut into 4 slices
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
- 1/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid powder (see NOTE)
- For the sorbet
- 1 cup Whey Low or sugar
- 1 cup water
- 5 medium Bosc or Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
- 2 cups pear poaching liquid, cooled (see compote recipe directions)
- 1/8 teaspoon ascorbic acid powder
- For the assembly
- Mint leaves, for garnish
- 1 to 2 small Bosc or Bartlett pears, cut into thin slices, for garnish
For the compote: Combine the water, wine, Whey Low or sugar, pear chunks, ginger, vanilla bean and its scrapings and the ascorbic acid powder in a large saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and poach, uncovered, for about 30 minutes, until the pears are tender.
Strain the poaching liquid from the pears into a large bowl and set aside to cool (there will be about 4 cups). Cook the pears remaining in the saucepan over medium-high heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until almost all their remaining moisture has evaporated; remove from the heat.
Discard the ginger and vanilla bean. Transfer the pears to a bowl and use a fork to mash to a chunky consistency. Cool to room temperature, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the sorbet: First, make a simple syrup by combining the Whey Low or sugar and 3/4 cup of the water in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil, then remove from the heat and stir until the Whey Low or sugar has dissolved. Cover and refrigerate until completely cooled.
Combine the pears, cooled poaching liquid and ascorbic acid powder in a blender or food processor and puree on high speed until very smooth (you may have to do this in batches). Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the simple syrup (reserve the remaining syrup for another use) and the remaining 1/4 cup of water; mix well. Cover the sorbet puree and refrigerate for about 4 hours, or until very cold. Then freeze the sorbet (15 to 30 minutes) in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's directions.
For the syrup: Cook 2 cups of the cooled poaching liquid in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat for 20 to 25 minutes, until thick and golden-colored. Cool, cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
For the assembly: Center a scoop of sorbet in a compote cup. Spoon some pear compote on each side of the sorbet and drizzle a spoonful of pear syrup over the top. Garnish with mint leaves and fanned slices of fresh pear.
NOTE: Ascorbic acid powder (powdered vitamin C) helps prevent browning in fruits and vegetables. Unlike lemon juice, it leaves no discernible taste -- an advantage that pastry chefs appreciate. Jars of the powder are available at Whole Foods Markets and Yes! Organic Markets.
From pastry chef Roger Potter of Rock Creek at Mazza.
Tested by David Hagedorn.
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