Spiced pear
1 firm pear, peeled and cut into small chunks ( ideally 16 pieces)
Small amount of orange or lemon juice ( I used the juice of one clementine)
1 tablespoon butter
1 1/2 tablespoons soft light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon allspice
Pinch of salt

Melba toast
3 slices of gluten free white bread
1 tablespoon of icing sugar

Brandy cream
120 ml double cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar
1/2 tablespoon brandy ( double it to 1 tablespoon if you want more of a kick !)

Spiced pears

  • Toss pear pieces in juice to prevent them from turning brown.
  • Melt butter in a small saucepan and stir in drained pear pieces. Simmer for five mins, turning once to coat evenly. Add sugar, spice and salt and stir.
  • Gently simmer for another five mins until pear is tender and covered in caramelised glaze. Leave aside to cool.

Melba toast

  • Toast three slices of (non holey!) gluten free white bread. Once toasted use a small scone cutter to cut a circle of toast from each piece of bread. While still warm, take a serrated bread knife and cut the toast to make two thin circle of toast out of each slice of bread.
  • Place all circles of thin toast on a parchment lined baking tray and give a dusting of icing sugar.
  • Cover the toast with another baking sheet to keep them flat. bake in a moderate oven for 10 mins. The baking will crisp up the toast. Put aside and make the brandy cream.

Brandy cream

  • Whip cream and brandy and as cream starts to get thicker add icing sugar.
  • Check the taste and if you like add in a little more brandy.

Select a nice plate to serve. Put one toast in the centre, a heaped teaspoon of cream in middle and spread out to edges. Put four pieces of drained pears around the edges. Add another toast on top and repeat. Top with third piece of toast. Dredge with icing sugar. If you have a culinary blow torch lightly caramelise the sugar. Alternatively if you have a gas cooker and a BBQ metal skewer, heat the skewer over the open flame until hot and then place skewer on top of the sugary toast to caramelise the sugar and create a lattice effect.

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I took a similar recipe to this from a food magazine a few years ago and unfortunately cannot remember who to credit with this show stopping dessert. In the original recipe raspberries and strawberries were used and a chantilly cream. It’s a perfect summer dessert. In winter I’m inclined to prefer spices and brandy…or maybe it’s just that I love Christmas and the kitchen smells incredible when you’re making this.
There is a bit of work involved in making this dessert and it can seem a bit daunting the first time you make it. But let me tell you it is absolutely worth the effort. It makes a perfect dinner party dessert. Usually I make extra Melba toasts and store them in an airtight container. They will keep for a month at least, so the next time you have less to do. I’d love to hear how you get on making this dessert, and your ideas for putting your own slant on it. What fruit would you use?

Spiced Pear Brandy Cream Dessert Recipe