Caramelized Pear Custard Pie

November/December 2012

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This custard pie recipe elevates the simple pear to something heavenly. The pears are lightly caramelized, baked into vanilla custard, then topped with a cinnamon caramel sauce just before serving.

Caramelized Pear Custard Pie

Makes: 8 servings

Active Time:

Total Time:



  • 1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour (see Tip) or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 tablespoons ice water, plus more as needed


  • 4 small, slender, ripe but firm Bosc pears
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch of salt


  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 12-ounce can low-fat evaporated milk, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt


  1. To prepare crust: Whisk flour, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Using your fingers, quickly rub butter into the dry ingredients until the pieces are smaller but still visible. Add oil and toss with a fork to combine. Sprinkle with 3 tablespoons water and toss until evenly moist. Knead the dough in the bowl a few times—the mixture may still be a little crumbly. If it feels dry or doesn’t start to clump together as you knead, sprinkle with another tablespoon of water and knead again. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead a few more times, until it just holds together. Form into a ball, then pat into a disk. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray.
  3. Let the dough stand at room temperature for 5 minutes. Roll out between sheets of parchment or wax paper into about a 14-inch circle. Peel off the top sheet and invert the dough into the prepared pie pan. Peel off the remaining paper. Trim the dough so it overhangs evenly by about 1 inch. Fold the edges under to make a plump edge; flute or crimp the edge with your fingers or a fork. Line the dough with a piece of parchment paper or foil large enough to lift out easily; fill with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 7 minutes. Remove the foil or paper and weights and continue baking just until lightly browned, 3 to 5 minutes more. (The crust will not be fully baked.) Let cool on a wire rack.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 350°.
  5. To prepare pears: Peel pears, halve lengthwise and remove stems. Core with a melon baller or small spoon. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, water, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and pinch of salt. When the sugar is melted and bubbling, add pears, rounded-side down. Cook, gently swirling the pan from time to time to help the sugar cook evenly, until the pears just start to color on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Gently turn the pears over, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking and swirling the pan frequently until the pears are tender when pierced with a knife and the sauce is thickened and looks like caramel, 3 to 10 minutes more (depending on your stove). Remove from the heat. Gently transfer the pears to the pie crust, arranging them cut-side down with the stem ends pointing toward the center. (The pears will be very snug in the pan; if they are too wide at the base for all 8 to fit, trim a little off the sides of a few pears). Set the pan with the caramel sauce aside.
  6. To prepare filling: Whisk granulated sugar, cornstarch and 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon in a medium bowl until well combined. Add 3/4 cup evaporated milk, eggs, vanilla and pinch of salt; whisk to combine. Pour the custard over the pears (they will not be completely submerged).
  7. Bake the pie until the center is just set, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack while you prepare the caramel topping.
  8. Add 2 tablespoons of the remaining evaporated milk to the pan with the caramel sauce. (Refrigerate the rest of the milk for another use.) Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil, stirring, until thickened and reduced slightly, 1 minute. Spoon the caramel sauce over the warm custard, leaving the pears uncovered. Gently tilt the pie as you drizzle, if necessary, to help cover the top. Let stand about 30 minutes before serving. Serve warm. (Alternatively, rather than drizzling the whole pie, serve each slice with a drizzle of the caramel sauce.)

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Refrigerate the crust (Step 1) for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months.


Per serving: 350 calories; 13 g fat (4 g sat, 5 g mono); 68 mg cholesterol; 53 g carbohydrates; 20 g added sugars; 8 g protein; 5 g fiber; 179 mg sodium; 285 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Iron (20% daily value)

Carbohydrate Servings: 3 1/2

Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 fruit, 1 1/2 other carbohydrate, 2 fat, 1/2 reduced-fat milk

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Recipe Categories

Ease of Preparation
Total Time
More than 1 hour
8 or more
Main Ingredient
Vegetarian, other
Preparation/ Technique
Type of Dish
Desserts, pies & tarts
Health & Diet Considerations
Low sodium
High fiber
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