Honey-Caramelized Pears with Orange-Vanilla Flan

The custard for Julian Serrano's flan needs to stand overnight so it can be infused with the flavors of the orange zest and the vanilla bean. Plan accordingly, and start the recipe one day in advance. Beautiful Desserts

Honey-Caramelized Pears with Orange-Vanilla Flan
Photo: © Amy Neunsinger


  • 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


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

Make Ahead

The dessert can be prepared through Step 3 up to 3 days in advance; refrigerate the poached pears and flans separately.

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