Here is an agreeable take on an old favourite, with citrus flavours providing the focal point. Grilled or poached peaches may be substituted for the pears in summer.
First make the caramel. Place the sugar in a saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water and dissolve over a low heat. Bring to the boil and boil hard until you have a light caramel. Lift the pan from the heat and let the colour deepen to a dark caramel. Pour into four ramekins or dariole moulds.
Heat the oven to 180°C (350°F/Gas 4). To make the custard, heat the milk in a saucepan with the lemon zest and Vanilla extract. In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together, then whisk in the hot milk.
Pour the custard into the ramekins and place in a roasting tray half-filled with hot water. Cover with parchment paper and bake for 35 minutes. Remove from the tray and leave to cool.
Sprinkle the sliced pears with sugar then grill until the sugar melts and starts to brown the pears. Turn out the crème caramels, lay the slices of grilled pear alongside and serve.
© 2000 Shaun Hill. All rights reserved.