This dessert has exactly the right ratio of investment and outcome. Preparation is minimal, cooking requires little attention, and yet the result is lovely. If you’re making a complicated meal – as Cormac and I were doing the other day – when the main course (lasagne) entails a lot of work and the first course (leek custards) is tricky, then this is perfect. The only problem is that they were so good, we forgot to take a photo.
5 pears (an additional in case of accidents)
100g caster sugar
1 vanilla pod
1 cinnamon stick
300g double or whipping cream
75g caster sugar
1. Peel the pears, leaving the stalk if there is one.
2. In a small casserole with a lid, melt the sugar with the marsala and add the vanilla pod and the cinnamon stick.
3. Place the pears in the casserole, on their side and spoon the sauce over them.
4. Place the casserole in the bottom of a medium oven and leave it for an hour.
5. After an hour, remove the casserole, turn the pears over and again spoon the sauce over them.
6. Give the pears another hour in the oven.
7. Meanwhile make the chantilly cream. Beat the cream, adding the seeds scraped from the vanilla pod and the caster sugar, until it is light and fluffy and holds its shape.
8. Check that the pears are tender. If not leave them for a while longer. Otherwise remove from the casserole. Also remove and discard the vanilla pod and the cinnamon stick.
9. In a cup mix a tablespoon of arrowroot with a few tablespoons of the sauce, add the mixture into the sauce, and heat gently, constantly stirring with a wooden spoon until it thickens. Pur the sauce over the pears and leave to cool.
10. Place a pear upright on each plate and spoon over it some of the sauce. Pass a bowl of chantilly cream (or yoghurt if you prefer).