I gave J a bottle of Vin Santo dessert wine last Christmas. I believe we had tried some at a wine tasting not long before, and been rather excited by it. But then the bottle lurked in our cellar all year, waiting for the appropriate occasion. Of late, though, I’ve decided that wine-opening occasions have to be created, not just awaited, so I went searching for possible accompaniments.
We recently bought ourselves a copy of What to Drink with What You Eat, so I looked up Vin Santo. Along with the usual recommendations of biscotti and nut-based desserts, I saw pears. Aha! We are definitely in the heart of fresh pear season around here, so I went digging for a recipe I remembered liking back in the mists of time – a pear custard pie that my mother used to make. She got the recipe at a farmer’s market meeting and then printed it in the Cashmere Valley Record newspaper’s recipe collection. Usually when we eat pears around here we poach them in sugar water and top them with pecans, brandy and sour cream. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with that, but pie sounded fun.
So I found my copy of the custard pie recipe and looked it over…and hey…it doesn’t have any milk or cream in it! Can it really be a custard with just eggs, butter and sugar? Won’t it be more of a sweet pear omelet in a pie crust? Hmm. I called my mother and had her dig through her recipe boxes to see if the original copy of the recipe could be found, but no luck. Hmm. Well, it’s worth a try, we thought, so I went ahead and did it.
Golly, it worked! It wasn’t obviously eggy, just rich and sweet, enhancing the flavor of the pears. With a good blop of whipped cream on top it was fantastic – the only thing I’d change would be to remember to peel the pears (I’ve added a note to my recipe, since I obviously need it). And it had these delicious little sugary crusts on top. Yum.
But, you know, it didn’t go all that well with the Vin Santo…oh, well. Maybe I should make some biscotti.
Pear Custard Pie
- enough peeled and sliced pears to fill one pie dish (I used 3 medium yellow Bartletts)
- 1 unbaked pie crust
- juice of a half lemon
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 white flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla
- a shake of salt
- a pinch of nutmeg or mace
Preheat oven to 350°. Arrange pears artfully in pie shell and drizzle lemon juice over them. Cream together butter and sugar in a bowl, then beat in flour, eggs, vanilla, salt and nutmeg. Pour this mixture over the pears and put the pan in the oven. Bake 45 minutes or until set. Cool before serving, eat with whipped cream. And maybe black tea or coffee. Not Vin Santo.