Recipe: Poached pears with homemade vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce

This dish uses an under used ingredient for me.  The British pear industry is in decline and it's time we started using it and supporting our local farmers rather than importing from abroad.  One of my pet hates in this country is that supermarkets dictate to farmers about size and shapes of product rather than making taste the important factor and this is the case with the humble pear.  It's time we changed!

This is dessert lends to a Christmas theme; the pears being poached in essentially mulled wine means this is a cracking dish for a festive dinner party!

Serves 4


4 pears, peeled
Red wine (to cover)
150g caster sugar
1 Cinnamon
2 Star anise

250g caster sugar
15ml cream
50g butter

Vanilla ice cream
300ml double cream
300ml milk
200g caster sugar
2 vanilla pods

1)      First make the ice cream, remove the seeds from the vanilla pods and add to the cream, milk and sugar.  On a medium heat, whisk the sugar until dissolved then bring to the boil. 
2)      Put in an ice cream machine to churn or in a tub in the freezer, whisking every 15 mins to break up the ice crystals until firm. try
3)      Place the wine, cinnamon, sugar and star anise on a medium heat and whisk to dissolve the sugar.  Meanwhile peel the pear and place In the red wine.  Make a cartouche from greaseproof paper and place on top to prevent the pear from bobbing around.
4)      Next make the caramel.  Place the sugar in a pan on a high heat and leave to dissolve.  When starting to turn, stir with a wooden spoon to even out then allow turning to a light brown colour before carefully adding water to stop cooking. Take off the heat and add the cream.  Whisk in the cream and return to heat and bring to boil.  Leave to cool and place in squeezy bottle.
5)      Check the pears are soft by inserting a knife into them.  If soft remove from heat and slice the bottom off to give an even base.  Carefully cut a circle in the base and place on the plate.
6)      Crush up some biscuit to hold the ice cream and place a scoop on to the biscuit.
7)      Drizzle the caramel around and serve!