Saffron crème brûlée with caramelised poached pears

Impress your guests with a rather refined dessert. The baked cream is infused with saffron and garnished with sweet lemon and vanilla-flavoured pears.

Ingredients

  • 250ml/9fl oz whole milk
  • pinch saffron
  • 10 free-range egg yolks
  • 175g/6oz caster sugar
  • 750ml/1⅓ pint double cream
  • 50g/1¾oz demerara sugar
For the poached pears
  • 4 pears, peeled, halved, cores removed
  • 1 lemon, peel and juice
  • 225g/8oz caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways and seeds scraped out
  • 4 tbsp icing sugar
  • 4 sprigs lemon verbena, to serve

Preparation method

  1. For the crème brûlée, preheat the oven to 120C/250F/Gas ½.

  2. Bring the milk and saffron to the boil in a pan. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool and infuse.

  3. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and caster sugar until pale, fluffy and well combined.

  4. Add the cooled milk and the cream to the eggs and sugar mixture, whisking continuously until the mixture is smooth and well combined.

  5. Strain the mixture through a sieve, then divide it equally among four ramekins. Place the ramekins onto a baking tray.

  6. Transfer to the oven and cook for 1½-2 hours, or until the crème brûlée mixture has set but still has a slight wobble.

  7. Meanwhile, for the poached pears, place the pears, lemon peel, lemon juice, 150g/5½oz of the caster sugar, the vanilla pod and vanilla seeds into a pan. Add enough water to just cover the pears.

  8. Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the pear is tender (5-15 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the pear). Remove the pears from the pan using a slotted spoon and set aside to drain on kitchen paper until cool. Slice into strips.

  9. Dust the pears with icing sugar. To finish them you can use a chef’s blowtorch to char them a little.

  10. To serve, dust the crème brûlées with Demerara sugar and use a chef’s blowtorch to char them a little. Garnish with the poached pears and lemon verbena.

James Martin recipes from Saturday Kitchen

Less than 30 mins preparation time

Over 2 hours cooking time

Serves 4