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Pear Stracciatella Ice Cream

4 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, halved lengthwise
5 Anjou or Bartlett pears, peeled
3 large egg yolks
Pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Poire William (pear brandy; optional)
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 70 percent cacao), melted and cooled
Chocolate Syrup (recipe follows)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup light corn syrup
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably 70 percent cacao), chopped
2 tablespoons Poire William (pear brandy; optional)
(makes 2 2/3 cups)


Put 4 cups water, 4 cups sugar, and the lemon juice in a large saucepan. Scrape in the vanilla seeds, then add the bean. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the pears to the pan. Cover the surface of liquid with a sheet of parchment paper. Cook the pears until very tender, 15 to 25 minutes (time will vary depending on the ripeness of the pears). Remove from heat. Let the pears cool completely in the poaching liquid. Transfer the pears to a cutting board. Discard all but 1/4 cup poaching liquid. Halve and core the pears. Puree 3 pears in a food processor. Finely chop the remaining 2 pears. Whisk the yolks, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, and the salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Heat the milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat until the mixture is steaming and small bubbles form on the edges. Add to the yolk mixture; whisk until combined. Pour the mixture back into the pan; cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until thick enough to coat the spoon, about 5 minutes. Pour the custard through a fine sieve into a large bowl set in an ice-water bath. Let cool, stirring occasionally. Stir the pear puree, reserved poaching liquid, brandy (if desired), and vanilla extract into the custard. Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to the manufacturers instructions. When the mixture is frozen but still being churned, add the chopped pear. Pour in the melted chocolate in a slow, steady stream; mix until combined. Freeze in an airtight container up to 2 days. Serve with the chocolate syrup. Heat the cream and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture is combined. Add the chocolate; stir until smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in the brandy, if desired. Let the sauce cool until thick but pourable. Just before serving, whisk until smooth. The syrup can be refrigerated, in an airtight container, up to 1 week. Reheat before serving.

Source: www.epicurious.com