Honey and cognac cassonade, quince, cashew praline, pear sorbet

Honey and cognac cassonade, quince, cashew praline, pear sorbet

New Classics
6 x 140 ml capacity moulds
Mark Roper

Everyone is familiar with crème brûlee, but for interest I like to add new elements, such as fruit and nuts. The slow-cooked, spiced quince and the honey have an ancient affinity; the cognac adds sophistication and the praline richness and texture. The pear sorbet ties it all together. Considering this is a cold dessert and the fruits are in season in the colder months, you’ll find the flavours deceptively ‘warm’.



Quantity Ingredient
4 quinces
1 litre water
600g caster sugar
375ml sweet wine, such as vin santo, sauternes or muscat
1 cinnamon stick
2 strips orange peel, with 1 clove stuck into each strip


Quantity Ingredient
50g honey
500ml thickened cream
40g caster sugar
60g egg yolks
or 1 whole egg
20ml cognac

Cashew praline

Quantity Ingredient
145g salted roasted cashew nuts
1 teaspoon black sesame seeds, (optional)
145g caster sugar
30ml water

Pear sorbet

Quantity Ingredient
6-7 large ripe pears, peeled and cored
300g caster sugar
60g powdered glucose
300ml water


  1. For the quinces

    Peel, quarter and core the quinces.
  2. Bring the water, sugar, wine, cinnamon stick and orange peel to the boil in a broad-based saucepan over medium heat. Add the quinces and reduce the heat to a simmer.
  3. To make a cartouche, fold a sheet of baking paper large enough to fit your saucepan in half crossways, then in half again lengthways, then in half into a triangle. Trim the triangle so that it is the same length as the radius of your pan. Snip the tip off the triangle to create a hole for the steam to escape. Open out the triangle. (You can always cheat and trace around your saucepan, then cut the circle out.)
  4. Cover the pan with the cartouche and place a plate on top to weight it down. Cook for 2 hours over low heat then remove the plate and continue to cook for several hours until it is a deep red colour. Turn off the heat and allow the quinces to cool in the syrup.
  5. For the custard

    To prepare the custard, preheat the oven to 100°C. Place the honey, cream and half the sugar into a heavy-based saucepan and bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
  6. In a mixing bowl, stir (don’t whisk) the remaining sugar into the egg yolks and the whole egg. Drizzle in one-third of the hot cream mixture and stir to combine. Add the cognac and pour into a pitcher.
  7. Prepare a baking dish or tray lined with paper towel or a tea towel (dish towel) to prevent the moulds from slipping around during cooking.
  8. Slice each quince piece into quarters and arrange on the base of each mould. Place six 140 ml capacity moulds into the baking dish and divide the mixture between the moulds to cover the fruit. Pour very hot water into the baking dish to come three-quarters of the way up the sides of the moulds. Cover the entire dish with foil and carefully place into the oven. Take care not to slosh the water into the custard. Cook for 45 minutes or until the custards wobble but look cooked. (They should not have ‘souffléd’ or risen at all.) Remove the custards from the water bath, then refrigerate until chilled.
  9. For the praline

    Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a baking tray with baking paper.
  10. Roughly chop the nuts and put on the tray with the sesame seeds, if using, to heat briefly later.
  11. Put the sugar and water in a medium-sized saucepan. Stir with your fingertips to dissolve the sugar slightly. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until it starts to colour.
  12. Place the nuts and sesame seeds in the oven to warm up. This ensures the nuts won’t cool the caramel down and cause it to ‘seize’.
  13. Swirl the caramel in the saucepan with a spoon until golden, then tip in the nuts and sesame seeds and stir with a wooden spoon to coat completely. Tip the caramel back onto the tray now lined with baking paper, spreading the mixture out evenly, and allow to cool until hard. Crush roughly
  14. For the sorbet

    Roughly slice the pears. Put in a heavy-based saucepan with the other ingredients. Bring up to a simmer over medium heat and cook for 10–15 minutes with a lid on, or until the pears are tender. Allow to cool slightly. Purée the mixture in a blender then strain the mixture through a sieve using a ladle or the back of a spoon to push the mixture through. Refrigerate to chill then churn in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. (Churn the sorbet as close to serving as possible – no more than several hours before. This way it stays soft and spoonable.)
  15. To serve

    Sprinkle the praline generously over half the surface of each cassonade then, using a spoon dipped in hot water, place a quenelle of pear sorbet on the other side. Serve immediately.
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