Servings: 10 servings
4 ounces cranberry jelly
(click on the link for the recipe)
3 soft, fully ripe pears
11 tablespoons superfine sugar (or granulated sugar)
½ vanilla bean
4 ounces vanilla chips (white chocolate)
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup heavy cream, for garnish
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
1 large piece pear glacé (dried candied pear), finely diced
2 tablespoons unsalted pistachios, crushed
2 teaspoons powdered sugar (optional), for decoration
Prepping the pears:
Peel, halve, core and dice the pears.
In a saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. Add the diced pears. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of sugar. Cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring often.
Remove and reserve about 2/3 of the pears on a plate (for garnish later) and add the dried cranberries and dried pears. Mix until the dried fruits are well coated in syrup.
Continue cooking the rest for an additional 3-4 minutes until they turn into a paste. If necessary, mash the pears using the back of a fork.
Prepping the cranberry pear purée:
In another small saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of sugar without any water over high heat. It's important to watch the sugar carefully; as soon as the edges of the pan start caramelizing, immediately add the cranberry jelly and pear purée. Gently jiggle the saucepan in circles for about 3-4 minutes. The mixture should be thick. Turn off the heat. Add 2 tablespoons of butter and salt.
Using a paring knife, scrape and gather all the grains of the vanilla bean. Add them to the mixture.
Allow to cool completely.
Melting the vanilla chips:
Place a pot filled with hot water (at a gentle simmer), topped with a piece of cloth so the bowl does not move and place a stainless-steel bowl filled with the vanilla chips on top. Make sure the bowl circumference is larger than the pot, so there isn't any splatter of water in the vanilla chips. Slowly melt, stirring frequently. Turn off the heat and add the remaining butter. Stir well. Set aside.
Prepping the mousse:
Whip the heavy cream (at low speed) for 2-3 minutes until creamy and smooth. Add 2 tablespoons of superfine sugar. Increase to maximum speed and keep beating for another 2-3 minutes, until it forms soft peaks. Do not over-beat or the texture will become grainy. Set aside.
In a stainless-steel mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the remaining granulated sugar until they have thick texture. Place in a double boiler (a pot filled with hot water, covered with a piece of cloth) and place the bowl filled with whisked eggs on top). Whisk the eggs at full speed using an electrical mixer, for about 3-4 minutes. Check the temperature of the eggs; they should feel warm to the touch. Remove from the double boiler and continue whisking at full speed for about 5 minutes.
Add the cranberry pear mixture to the egg mixture. Stir well. Pour 1/3 of the whipped cream into the cranberry-pear-egg mixture; gently stir to soften the batter. Pour in the rest of the whipped cream; using a wooden spoon, gently fold the whipped cream to get an airy batter.
Note: I realized it afterwards but the mashed pears faded the color of the cranberry mousse, so I would advise to add a drop of red food coloring.
Place the filling in a piping bag. Pipe or spoon the filling into dessert cups. Level the filling with a spatula. Plastic-wrap the individual dessert cups and chill in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours, preferably overnight.
When you're ready to serve, unwrap the cups and carefully top the mousse with the reserved pears and decorate with a sprinkle of pistachios. Dust with a little powdered sugar (using a fine mesh strainer).
You could also use cranberry pear mousse as filling for a pie.
I prefer using superfine sugar. It's fine-grained and dissolves more quickly than regular granulated sugar.
I used ripe Bartlett pears, but you could use the Comice variety. If you want to save some time, you could also use canned pears in syrup but i think they have a less pronounced pear flavor with a metallic hint.
I buy pear glacé (dried pears in sugar) at a local store called, Milk Pail Market, 2585 California Street, Mountain View, CA 94040.
After scraping the grains of vanilla, do NOT discard the remaining vanilla bean. Just place the vanilla bean in a jar and cover it with regular granulated sugar. Let it sit for a few weeks and you'll have fragrant vanilla sugar (great with plain yogurt).
If you don't have any vanilla bean, you can replace it with pure vanilla extract.
I used Guittard vanilla chips that I bought directly from a local market but if you can't find any, you can replace them with white chocolate chips.
A pinch of salt brings out the flavor of the dessert and enhances its sweetness.
Check out more Thanksgiving desserts by clicking on the link.