Pear Ginger Sorbet in Walnut Spice Cookie Cups

IMG_1164(MARINA) Talk about the best sorbet ever! Please know that this post is rated PGS…Pear ginger sorbet, that is! This pear sorbet is best with the  cookie cup. It’s almost like a couple in love, they complete each other. The cookie cup adds the crunch, and the sorbet brings the cool gritty texture that’s always in pears. The grittiness from the pear makes it burst with flavor like Pop Rocks. When you taste it, you can taste the rainbow peeking behind your tongue. Here’s a tip: Don’t freeze the sorbet in the ice-cream maker or you will need a jack-hammer to get it out.

There is a reduction sauce to put on the finished product. The dessert is so satisfying, and I hope you make it to serve it to your family or friends! Maybe for Valentine’s Day!

(KERI) We’ve been holding this post since the holidays because frankly, Friends in Food, it is so unbelievably good, words are hard to find. I do not tell lies. Here, let me try to articulate, and let’s start with how we found ourselves meeting the acquaintance of Pear Ginger Sorbet in Spiced Brown Butter and Walnut Tuile Cups. Please just read that title again. It could be the CEO of a bad-ass Fortune 500, don’t you think?
1. Since August, I’ve been sllllooowly-as-molasses making my way through 15 years of Bon Appetit Magazine. Why would you rush something so satisfying? I scour, I pour, I squeal, I reminisce, I can’t stand it, it’s THAT much fun (This is the way my husband talks about opera and I make fun of him. I’m noting I must stop. We’re all nerds in our own way. Honey, I accept you and your opera-nerdiness). The December 2009 issue was full of ambitious desserts, and this was one that winked at me from the page. ‘Come on. You know you want to try me.’
2. Each year, I take two weeks off of work during the holidays. I had time on my hands. Good grief, don’t we love time on our hands to do Whatever. We. Want?
3. We were having friends over for dinner. He is lactose-intolerant and She creates amazingly lovely things and cooks like Martha Stewart (check out Her fabulous restoration business, The Whimsical Nest). The fussier the task, the more divine Her end-result. Girlfriend is talented, diligent, and patient. I knew if I could pull this off, She would appreciate and delight in this dessert with me. We would talk about all of the details of how it came to be and clap like school girls. Yay!

So here was that December 2009 issue and this recipe. Marina and I set off for a sorbet adventure that took two days to tackle. First up, the Spiced Brown Butter and Walnut Tuile Cups.

IMG_1120The ingredients speak for themselves: Browned butter, Chinese Five Spice powder, walnuts. Don’t let this little baby’s delicate appearance fool you. It is the perfect punctuation mark to the downy-deliciousness it envelopes.

Spread the cookie mixture thin and even, as the recipe says to do. I got a little nervous and made them thicker fearing they would break when molding, and as a result, they were a little uneven in texture: thicker in the middle, thinner on the edges and they took longer to bake. Nonetheless, they were beautiful and evenly browned. The tricky part is moving swiftly to coax them off of the cookie sheet and immediately molding them over a measuring cup. Move fast, People, and keep the ladies-in-waiting in the oven (with the oven door ajar) while you work one cup at a time. This way, they’ll stay warm and easier to mold when you’re ready. I placed my cookies on a cup and immediately covered it with a clean dishtowel to squeeze the tuile around the cup. They were too hot to handle without the dishtowel and for some reason, I was bolder, more assertive with the towel. Fearless, in fact. I could and would mold this cookie, dammit.

IMG_1111And then, the sorbet. My family loves pears. I’m talking about pears we get from our local farm stand in the fall, stocked with the little green guys from Colorado’s Western Slope. The skin is thin, allowing the scent of pear to permeate the air and the juicy meat to take its deserved place of prominence.

So you pair, um…pears…with sugar, ginger, and lemon zest in a pot for a good long soak.


Then puree the pears with a splash of pear eau-de-vie (we used Mathilde Poires). Plop it in the ice cream maker and process to sorbet. Boil the remaining poaching liquid to a reduction sauce (I splashed in a little more Mathilde Poires here, just for good measure).

What results is the pear-iest flavor of all time, frozen so you have to slow down and savor it. How’s that for elegant prose? The ginger, lemon, and Mathilde join hands and rally around that pear. They say ‘we’re behind you, to remind you, go Pear go.’ That pear flavor is immense and beautifully balanced by her cheering buddies. Shut your eyes and imagine yourself eating this fall fruit straight from the tree. It’s that good. It’s that blissful. My husband actually looked at Marina and me said, ‘really?! You made this?’ Add the tuile cup and it is a match made in dessert heaven.

Marina’s right: The tuile cup and sorbet are like a couple in love. Romeo and Juliet. Lucy and Desi. Sonny and Cher. With this dessert, in all of its fussy glory, you’ll have them, Babe.

Ginger Pear Sorbet from Bon Appetit

3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1-inch piece fresh ginger (about 1/2 ounce), peeled, very thinly sliced
2 1 1/2-inch-long strips lemon peel (yellow part only, removed with vegetable peeler)
2 1/4 pounds ripe pears, peeled, halved, cored (quartered if large)
Pinch of salt
2 tablespoons pear eau-de-vie (such as poire Williams) or pear liqueur (such as Mathilde Poires)
Spiced Brown Butter and Walnut Tuile Cups (click for recipe)
Fresh raspberries (for garnish)

Combine 3 cups water, sugar, ginger, and lemon peel in large skillet. Bring to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add pears to skillet; place parchment paper round atop pears, then cover with lid and simmer until pears are tender when pierced with small sharp knife, 10 to 15 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; uncover and cool pears completely in poaching liquid in skillet. Transfer mixture to bowl. DO AHEAD Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Remove lemon peel strips and 3 ginger slices from poaching liquid and discard. Using slotted spoon, transfer pears and remaining ginger slices to food processor. Add pinch of salt and process until smooth. Transfer pear puree to large measuring cup; add 1 1/2 cups poaching liquid (reserve remaining poaching liquid). Stir pear eau-de-vie into pear mixture. Transfer pear mixture to ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer pear sorbet to freezer container. Cover and freeze until firm. DO AHEAD Sorbet can be made up to 3 days ahead. Keep frozen.

Boil remaining poaching liquid in small saucepan until syrup is reduced to 1/2 cup, about 8 minutes. Carefully strain pear syrup into small bowl and cool. DO AHEAD Syrup can be made 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.

Place 2 small scoops or 1 large scoop of sorbet in each of 10 Spiced Brown Butter and Walnut Tuile Cups. Spoon small amount of pear syrup over each. Garnish with raspberries and serve.

Spiced Brown Butter Walnut Tuile Cups from Bon Appetit

7 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of Chinese five-spice powder
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup minus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
1/4 cup (about) finely chopped walnuts

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick silicone baking mats. Arrange four 3/4-cup custard cups upside down on work surface.

Stir butter in heavy small saucepan over medium heat until nutty brown and milk solids are dark brown, 6 to 7 minutes. Carefully pour browned butter into small bowl and cool slightly.

Combine egg whites, sugar, five-spice powder, and salt in medium bowl; whisk until mixture is foamy, about 1 minute. Add warm browned butter, leaving dark brown milk solids behind in bowl; whisk until blended. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour and whisk until blended and smooth.

Drop batter by scant tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 4 inches apart (about 4 per sheet). Using small offset spatula, spread each to 5-inch round (batter will be spread very thin). Sprinkle generous 1/4 teaspoon finely chopped walnuts over each.

Bake tuiles, 1 sheet at a time, until evenly golden all over, about 11 minutes. Working quickly and using wide metal spatula, carefully lift each tuile from sheet and immediately drape over custard cup and press to mold to cup, making cookie bowls. Cool until tuiles are set. Carefully remove tuiles from cups and place on rack to cool completely. Repeat procedure with batter and walnuts on cool baking sheets, making total of 12 cookie bowls (to allow for any breakage). For additional cookies, if desired, drop remaining batter onto baking sheets by teaspoonfuls, spacing 2 inches apart, and bake until evenly golden. Transfer to rack and cool. DO AHEAD Cookie bowls and cookies can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.