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Gingerbread Trifle with Poached Pears and Spiced Cream

This festive dessert is perfect for the holidays, and our gingerbread-spice quick bread mix speeds the preparation. You can make the poached pears and pastry cream a day in advance; cover and refrigerate until ready to use. Bake the quick bread the day you plan to assemble and serve the trifle.

Ingredients:

For the gingerbread-spice quick bread:

  • 1 package gingerbread-spice quick bread mix
  • 8 Tbs. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 eggs

For the lemon pastry cream:

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 whole eggs plus 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs. cornstarch
  • 1 tsp. vanilla paste
  • 1/4 tsp. lemon zest
  • 4 tsp. fresh lemon juice

For the poached pears:

  • 3 cups Riesling
  • 2 cups water
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Peel of 1 lemon
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 tsp. vanilla paste
  • 6 pears (Bosc, d’Anjou or Bartlett), peeled, halved, cored and stemmed

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F. Grease a 4-by-8-inch loaf pan.

In a large bowl, combine the quick bread mix, butter, water and eggs. Mix thoroughly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until just blended and no lumps remain. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 15 minutes, then remove the bread from the pan and let cool completely. Cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside.

Meanwhile, make the pastry cream: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the milk until small bubbles form and steam begins to rise.

In a bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolk, granulated sugar and cornstarch until just blended. Gradually whisk in half of the hot milk, then pour the egg mixture into the pan. Set over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, about 10 minutes. Do not allow the mixture to boil.

Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl. Stir in the vanilla paste, lemon zest and lemon juice. Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface to prevent a skin from forming, and let cool. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

To poach the pears, in a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the wine, water, granulated sugar, lemon peel, cloves, star anise and vanilla paste and bring to a boil. Add the pear halves and cover with a sheet of parchment paper. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until the pears are just tender, about 25 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pear halves to a plate. Strain the syrup through a fine-mesh sieve and return it to the pan. Simmer over medium-high heat until reduced, 25 to 30 minutes.

Cut the pears into 1/2-inch dice and transfer to a bowl. Pour the syrup over the pears and let cool. When ready to assemble the trifle, remove with pears with a slotted spoon.

About 30 minutes before assembling the trifle, make the whipped cream: In a deep bowl, using a balloon whisk, beat the cream, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble the trifle, alternate layers of cake, pastry cream, pears and whipped cream in a large trifle bowl. Repeat until the bowl is filled. Serves 8 to 10.

Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.