Poached pears with saffron and custard creamThis is a beautiful  dessert, or any time treat whenever you feel like eating something sweet and the children will love it. Moreover, it is a very easy recipe and you can add more fruit, and as much sugar as you like to suit your taste. It is really refreshing when you eat it cold from the fridge. Saffron is the stigma of a flower and has anticarcinogenic and antioxidant-like properties among other things. Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, but you only need a very small amount to reap its benefits.



10 pears
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 stick cinnamon
3 – 4 cloves
2 star aniseed
10 saffron filaments
1/3 Vanilla pod (or any other vanilla you like)
Ingredients for Vanilla Custard
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3 – 4 tablespoonfuls sugar (or as sweet at you like it)
2 egg yolks
1/3 vanilla pod (or 1 teaspoon vanilla)



Peel, and core the pears. You can cut each half in two or three slices. Place all the slices in a pot and add the water. Add the sugar, cinnamon, cloves, aniseed and vanilla pod which you have split open with a knife. Poach them, carefully stirring now and then so that the sugar dissolves completely.  In the meantime, place the saffron filaments in a small bowl, and add 1 – 2 teaspoons water. Let them steep while the pears are poaching so that they release their color. Saffron should not be cooked at high temperatures.

When the pears have softened, without being mushy, remove them from the syrup. Add the saffron with the water and boil the syrup gently for a little more until it thickens. Watch it, because it can boil over, or it can burn. It must have the consistency of very light honey. Pour the syrup over the pears without removing the spices, and let them cool.

To prepare the custard, pour two cups of milk in a saucepan. Put the cornstarch in a bowl and take a couple of tablespoonfuls of milk from the saucepan to dilute the cornstarch. Beat the egg yolks, and leave them aside. Add the sugar and the vanilla pod that you have split up with a knife to the milk and heat it until you see little bubbles forming around the edges. Stir gently now and then to dissolve the sugar. Stir again the cornstarch (it tends to sit in the bottom of the bowl). Remove the vanilla pod and pour a little hot milk in the bowl, stirring constantly until the cornstarch has dissolved. Now slowly pour a little hot milk over the eggs, beating constantly.  Pour the egg mixture and the cornstarch mixture back into the saucepan, stirring. Turn the fire down to low, return the saucepan to the fire, stirring constantly until the custard starts to thicken. Remove from the fire. Place a piece of cling film on the cream, to prevent it from forming a skin. Cool it.

If you wish, you can make custard the easy way, using custard powder and omitting the eggs.

To serve, spoon a few slices of pear into a bowl with a little syrup. Spoon 2 – 3 large tablespoonfuls of custard on top, and drizzle a little syrup over all.

Left over pears keep well in the fridge in a covered container.

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