I chose to make a vanilla bean creme anglaise, but you could easily do a warm caramel or lemon sauce as an accompaniment and that would be just as nice. This recipe for Creme Anglaise comes from the NY Times. I actually cut it out from the food section when we lived in New England and it's been my "go to" creme anglaise because it always comes out perfect. (I particularly love it with a bittersweet chocolate cake!)
Pear Upside Down Cake with Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise
2-3 Pears, peeled, cored and sliced (I used the Bosc variety)
I use a melon-baller to scoop out the core. Place in a bowl and squeeze 1/2 lemon juice over them. Toss to coat.
2 T butter
4 T sugar
1/4 dark rum, brandy, or apple juice
1 T. Mini Ginger Chips
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 T. unsulphured molasses
3 large eggs
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamon
1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
Lightly butter a tartin pan or a 9-inch cake pan.
To caramelize the pears--In a large sauce pan, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter, then, add the sugar. Lightly brown the pears on both sides and remove to a plate. Add the rum (brandy or juice) and deglaze the pan. When the mixture thickens slightly and looks more like syrup, turn off the heat and pour this mixture into the prepared pan.
Arrange the pears in the syrup and set aside. Sprinkle with the mini ginger chips, if using.
Preheat oven to 350F-degrees.
In a KitchenAid, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter until fluffy. Add the sugars and molasses and beat well. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Don't worry, the mixture will look "curdled".
Sift the dry ingredients (flour, spices, baking soda and salt) Add to the mixture and beat just until the batter has come together.
Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise
1 cup whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
2 Vanilla beans, split and the "bean paste" scraped into the milk
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
Bring the milk and cream just to a boil with the vanilla beans in it.
Turn off heat and let steep at least 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks, gradually adding the sugar. Continue to whisk until a lighter yellow color. Ladle some of the hot milk mixture into the egg yolk mixture and whisk to combine. Continue doing this untl almost all the milk mixture has been added, then, remove the vanilla bean pods and pour the remaining milk into the egg mixture. Return to the stove and cook the mixture over medium heat. Continue to whisk constantly until the mixture reaches 180F-degrees or when the mixture covers the back of a wooden spoon and you draw your finger across, the line remains.
Immediately remove from the heat, strain the mixture into a glass bowl and place that bowl inside another bowl that is half filled with ice cubes. Let the mixture cool, stirring occassionally. When cool, cover with plastic wrap and chill for several hours. This mixture can be made the day before.
*Save the egg whites--I'll show you my chocolate dipped macaroons later this week!
Invert the cake onto a platter.