Sugar Rush: Honey Orange Baked Pears with Almond Bavarese at Giovanni Rana
Bavarese is an Italian custard similar to Bavarian Cream. In both instances, custard is solidified with gelatin and flavored with whatever one's heart desires. At Giovanni Rana in Chelsea Market, it's enriched with almond extract and topped with honey baked pears and hazelnuts ($5). The custard itself isn't quite as smooth as you might find in other Italian desserts of this nature, i.e. budino or panna cotta, but it is a bit thicker and sweeter, with a combination of nutty flavors that lend themselves to a pleasing sweet bite.
Pears act like sponges for the honey and orange juice they're cooked in. They soften up in the oven as the liquid forms a shiny glaze that gives them a deep toasted sweetness. Hazelnuts, a great contribution to any winter dessert, provide a contrast in texture, and add a subtle savory note to an otherwise sweet custard.
The bavarese is only available on Rana's takeaway menu, so the custard is built and set in a plastic to-go container. It makes for easy, resealable portability, which is a good thing if you can't handle too much sugar in one sitting.