- 2 1/2 cups milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 oranges, zest removed with a vegetable peeler
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- 2 2/3 cups sugar
- 8 large egg yolks
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- Vegetable oil, for coating
- 2 quarts water
- 1 lemon, zest removed with a vegetable peeler
- 10 firm Bartlett pears (about 1/2 pound each)peeled, halved and cored
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup honey
- In a medium saucepan, combine the milk with the cream, half of the orange zest, half of the vanilla bean and 2/3 cup of the sugar and bring just to a simmer. Let the custard cool to room temperature, then whisk in the egg yolks and whole eggs. Transfer the custard to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 250°. Lightly coat ten 3- to 4-ounce ramekins with vegetable oil and arrange them in a roasting pan. Strain the custard into a large glass measuring cup and pour it into the ramekins, filling them about three-quarters full. Add enough hot water to the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Transfer the roasting pan to the oven and bake for about 1 hour or until the flans are set. Carefully remove the ramekins from the water bath and let them cool to room temperature. Refrigerate the flans until well chilled, about 4 hours.
- Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, combine the water with the lemon zest and the remaining 2 cups of sugar, orange zest and vanilla bean. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the pears and cover with a heatproof plate or pot lid that's slightly smaller than the saucepan, to keep the pears submerged. Simmer over moderately low heat until the pears are just tender and a knife inserted in the thickest part comes out easily, about 15 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a platter. Let the pears and poaching liquid cool separately.
- Divide the butter and honey between 2 large skillets and bring to a boil. Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly golden, about 4 minutes. Add half of the pears to each skillet, cut side down, and cook, turning occasionally, until golden and beginning to caramelize, about 12 minutes. Add 3/4 cup of the reserved pear poaching liquid to each skillet and cook over moderate heat, turning and basting the pears, until the liquid reduces to a thick syrup, about 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears to a platter. Stir 2 tablespoons of the poaching liquid into each skillet to thin the syrup. Pour the sauce over the pears.
- Run a thin-bladed knife around the flans to loosen them and dip the bottom of each ramekin in hot water. Top each flan with a dessert plate and invert; holding the ramekin and plate together, give the dish a good shake to unmold the flan. Arrange 2 pear halves alongside each flan. Drizzle the flans and pears with the syrup and serve.
The dessert can be prepared through Step 3 up to 3 days in advance; refrigerate the poached pears and flans separately.