Peras de Canela con Crema Pastelera
Poached Cinnamon Pears with Mexican Pastry Cream
From Andrea Pons
This Crema Pastelera is not like the traditional recipes you’ll find online. Unlike those recipes, this one came from my own grandmother Titita Tere. Her recipe is special in the way that it does not use eggs, and what makes it even more special is the fact that she used this exact recipe for the pastries that she once sold at La Española, the bakery she opened the same year my mother was born and the way that she was able to put all of her six children through college financially when my grandfather died at age 50.
I wanted to use her recipe in a non-traditional way by serving it alongside poached pears. The beginning of fall is one of my favorite times of the year. I love the way everything begins to slow down, and much like nature, things are beginning to feel a bit heavier, like ripe fruit hanging from a skinny tree branch. This dessert recipe is a perfect representation of the start of the new season. The warmth from the cinnamon Poached Pears against the chilled sweetness of the Crema Pastelera will remind you of sunny crisp fall days.
Read more about Andrea's recipes here.
For the pears
Butter for the pan
5-6 red Anjou pears* or quince
5 cups of water
½ cup brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
*You want the pears to be crisp and slightly hard, if you choose a pear that is too ripe this recipe won’t turn out.
For the Crema Pastelera
2 ½ cups of milk
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ 9.9 fl oz can of sweetened condensed milk
½ cup water, room temperature
1 1.6oz package of maizena vanilla corn starch drink mix
For the Crema Pastelera
- In a large saucepan, bring milk to boil over medium-high heat. Constantly mixing the milk with a wooden spoon so the bottom of the pan does not burn, add the cinnamon stick and vanilla extract.
- When the cinnamon becomes fragrant, remove it from the milk and add the condensed milk. Continue to mix over medium-high heat for about 2 minutes.
- Dissolve the maizena package in the ½ cup of water, once the milk in the saucepan begins to foam, turn down the heat to medium-heat and add the dissolved maizena into the milk. Using a whisk, incorporate the maizena until fully blended with the milk.
- Continue gently whisking until the consistency of the cream is that of pudding. Once you reach this consistency, remove the cream from the heat.
- Continue mixing the cream for about 1 minute, then scrape the cream into a medium size bowl and cover with waxed parchment paper. You want the parchment paper to touch the top layer of the cream to protect it.
- Let the cream cool down to room temperature before serving.
Pro-tip: Refrigerate cream up to a week. To use the cream again after refrigirating, heat up in the microwave for up to 2 minutes max, and using a whisk vigorously mix until consistency turns from jello-like to pudding-like again.
For the pears
- Preheat oven to 350°F, and grease the bottom of a deep baking dish with butter.
- Place pears right side up on the pan.
- In a small bowl, dissolve the brown sugar with 1 cup of water, pour sugar-water into the pan, following by 4 additional cups of water.
- Add cinnamon sticks to water and place the pears in the oven. Cook for 2 ½-hours, basting the pears with the sugar-water every 20 minutes.
- Transfer the pears to a serving dish to cool.
- Serve chilled with a bed of Crema Pastelera.
Pro-tip: Reserve the cooking sugar-water, remove the cinnamon sticks and reduce over medium heat in a saucepan until water becomes a syrup. Additionally, you may add a shot of rum to make these pears boozy. Pour syrup over the pears and serve chilled with Crema Pastelera.