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Poires Maxim’s
Pam Wischkaemper
The James Beard Celebration Cookbook icon
The James Beard Foundation,
Editor: Barbara Kafka, 1990, Wings Books


“Pam Wischkaemper provides us with another gala recipe that shows
James’s influence in the poaching of fresh fruit – a favorite – and
the use of candied violets. The recipe may be prepared in steps on
separate days and assembled just before dinner.”

“You may poach the pears several days in advance. Let them cool to room
temperature in the syrup. Store them in the syrup in the refrigerator.
When you are ready to assemble the dessert, drain the pears well.
Fragile almond or pistachio tuiles would be lovely with the pears.”

2 cups granulated sugar
8 cups water
1-inch piece vanilla bean,
split lengthwise
6 large firm-fleshed pears
9 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/2 cup Grand Marnier
2 cups cold heavy cream, plus
additional cream for serving
Vanilla ice cream, for serving
Candied violets, for serving

In a heavy saucepan large enough to hold all of the pears comfortably, combine the granulated sugar, water, and vanilla bean over medium-high
heat and let boil for 5 minutes.
Peel, Halve, and core the pears; a quick way to core them is to use a
melon baler to scoop out the center core, then a paring knife to cut out
the stem in a neat “V”.
Slip the pear halves into the hot sugar syrup and poach them over
medium heat for about 20 minutes, until they are cooked through but
still firm. Remove them from the syrup and let them drain on paper
toweling. Place them in a bowl, cover them, and chill thoroughly.

In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, beat the egg
yolks with about one third of the confectioners’ sugar until the mixture
is smooth. Gradually add the remaining confectioners’ sugar, beating
thoroughly after each addition. Continue beating until the mixture is thick
and falls in a ribbon when dropped from the beater. This will take about
10 minutes. Remove the top of the double boiler from the heat and con-
tinue to beat the mixture until it has cooled. Stir in the Grand Marnier
and set the mixture aside.
In a clean bowl, whip 2 cups of the cream until it is stiff. Fold the
whipped cream into the sugar-egg mixture. Spoon this mousse into
a large serving dish and chill thoroughly.

When you are ready to serve the dessert, arrange the pear halves on
top of the chilled mousse, core side up. Fill each pear with some ice
cream, and decorate the dessert with additional whipped cream piped
through a pastry bag and candied violets.
Serves 12.

[With all due respect to the chef who created this marvelous dessert,
we must admit we think the ice cream is overkill. Our preference is
to limit the dessert to the pears and mousse, decorating with candied
violets or other seasonal garnishes as desired.]

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