An English-language proverb claims, "Necessity is the mother of invention." In life, and especially in cooking, I find this to be true. Case in point, I am in Puerto Vallarta visiting friends and I wanted to make poached pears with a créme anglaise for dessert. But when I went to the pantry, I discovered that my friends did not have any white sugar—Tari doesn't like it, she prefers the robust flavor of the molasses in dark brown sugar—so I found myself in a situation. What WOULD it taste like to use dark brown, Muscavado sugar in place of white sugar in the recipe? I proceeded to find out, and the results were delicious!
*Ginger Poached Pears
3 c water
1 c dry white wine
2 c dark brown sugar (you can use Muscavado or Turbinado but dark brown is just fine)
1 cinnamon stick
1 T peeled, sliced, fresh ginger
4 pears such as Bosc or D'Anjou, peeled (cut a thin slice off of the bottom so that they stand up easily, if necessary)
Place the water, wine, sugar, cinnamon stick and ginger in a pot. Stir and bring to a boil. Add the pears, turn the heat down to medium and cook, partially covered, turning frequently for about 45 minutes until you can pierce them easily with a knife. Turn off the heat and let the pears cool in the liquid. Remove the pears and set aside. Turn on the heat to high and reduce the liquid by a third, until it is a bit thicker and syrupy. Serve the pears on a pool of the créme anglaise, drizzled with the syrup. Add a crumbled ginger cookie or crystallized ginger if you like. The ginger that is in the syrup is also wonderful to chop and sprinkle over or just eat, mmmm spicy!
Dark Brown Sugar Créme Anglaise
2 c milk
6 egg yolks (save the whites for meringue cookies or an egg white omelet, they freeze!)
1/4 c brown sugar
1 t. vanilla
Microwave milk in 4-cup glass measure, uncovered for 3 minutes. In a mixing bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar. Gradually add the hot milk into the mixture, beating vigorously, then return all to the glass measure. Microwave uncovered for 2 minutes.
Whisk vigorously for 30 seconds, then microwave 1 minute. Whisk in vanilla. Strain through a fine sieve into a clean bowl. Chill, tightly covered, until ready to use.
*The thing that I noticed the most about using dark brown sugar instead of white sugar is richness and intensity. The color of the pears and the créme anglaise was a bit darker, more flavorful and intriguing. I will definitely be thinking about dark brown sugar in place of white sugar in more recipes in the future!
As a caterer for over 30 years, I have established a reputation for consistently creating original menus inspired by the occasion and the season, presenting them with an ease and elegance uniquely my own. Fresh, locally-sourced ingredients are the basis of my creative “from scratch” menus, which range from the classically elegant to rustic and whimsical.
"Love your recipes! Pat made your avocado toast a few weeks ago, delish! I'm taking them to a party in a few weeks, although the mushroom crostata looks pretty darn good!"