Autumn at the table: Étienne Leroy reveals his recipe for vanilla poached pears

He was crowned world pastry champion in 2017, Étienne Leroy is above all pastry chef of the sweet creation of the Lenôtre house alongside Guy Krenzer. After creations for the Rugby World Cup, he focused on autumn sweets for Maison Lenôtre. This season deeply inspires the chef who does not hesitate to reveal to us what he cooks at home.

A sweet autumn

Between seasonal fruits, the spices that enhance them or the crushed dried fruits at the heart of the plates, autumn is ideal for gourmet breaks. We asked Étienne Leroy what his autumn menu at Lenôtre looks like. “I have a creation that highlights hazelnut with a fairly modern visual which takes up the appearance of hazelnut. I stuck to a single flavor that I declined into different textures. We have a crispy biscuit, slightly runnier caramel, crunchy hazelnut praline poached inside for a regressive side to the cake and a hazelnut mousse which coats everything. It’s our favorite this year. », explains Étienne Leroy.

© Caroline Faccioli

People at home

Are you entertaining people at home and lacking inspiration for dessert? Étienne Leroy reveals to us a recipe that he makes when he has family over on a Sunday in the fall. He then suggested that we impress our guests with a soufflé pancake cake. “It’s quite similar to a soufflé machine that we make in restaurants with a light pastry cream with whipped whites, which we fry on one side so that the soufflé pancake takes on color. Finally, we finish in the oven. We repeat the step several times to obtain a layering of 5-6 pancakes which we bind with red fruit jam, citrus fruit confit or spread. They can be garnished with fresh cut autumn fruits or crushed dried fruits. To finish, we make a larger pancake which covers the whole thing and forms an airy and delicious cake at the same time. Then, we all taste together,” explains Étienne Leroy.

The magic of dried fruits

Whether it’s hazelnut, almond or pecan, the chef loves working with dried fruits in autumn. In addition to providing taste, they allow texture effects in the mouth. “If we work with a raw, hulled or roasted hazelnut, we have different tastes. A hazelnut or almond fully expresses its toasted flavors when it is roasted. We work at a long, low temperature for a fully roasted fruit. I take pleasure in working with dried fruit in all its splendor because in my memories, it’s the nougatine, it’s this regressive side that we love. », confesses the world pastry champion.

“Vanilla is like a cook’s salt or pepper”

He goes on to reveal to us that vanilla is his ingredient for all seasons but that he prefers it more in the fall. “Depending on how you work it, you can get either freshness or a very comforting side from it. As for me, I like the whole vanilla by roasting the pod as if it were a dried fruit. In blind tasting, the roasted vanilla could almost bring to mind notes of coffee. To me, vanilla is like a cook’s salt or pepper. », he reveals.

We then asked the chef to concoct an easy dessert recipe to make at home, in keeping with the season. His first idea is to combine pear with vanilla. He then suggests making a recipe for pears poached in vanilla, vanilla whipped cream and tonka bean, speculoos. Between the seasonal pear and the spices chosen by the chef, autumn is in the spotlight. “In Yvelines, there is a pear producer that I love. It’s sometimes sacrilege to overwork the pear because it’s so good. We then keep it whole, bag it and serve in a glass. We simply cook it in a very vanilla syrup. », explains the chef. The chef’s tip for poaching the pear is to cut it in half and leave its stem to keep it firm. We want a beautiful pear so after peeling it, we rub it with the green part of a new sponge to round off the angles created by the peeler. For the syrup, he uses vergeoise for a spicy note but the chef insists on the fact that we must not poach the pear for too long otherwise our syrup will boil, the water will evaporate and the syrup will concentrate more sugar. As for the pear, cooking it too long or too hard could damage it. We want a melting pear. On the chef’s advice, cover the pan with a small plate to reduce cooking time. The pressure and heat inside increase faster thanks to the steam that remains trapped. We then have cooking that is both quick and gentle which will cook the pear thoroughly without damaging the exterior.

Vanilla poached pears, vanilla and tonka bean whipped cream, Étienne Leroy speculoos

For 6 persons

For the tonka vanilla whipped cream

300g of liquid cream
48g of mascarpone
30g of vergeoise
1 g of gelatin leaf
2 vanilla pods
2 tonka beans

For the poached pears

500 g of water
50g caster sugar
50g of vergeoise
2 vanilla pods
6 comice pears

For the pear cream

125g fresh comices pears, peeled and cored
5g lemon juice
1 vanilla pod
4g potato starch
8g caster sugar

For the speculoos shortbread

40g butter
40g of brown vergeoise
0.4g fine salt
0.4g cinnamon powder
0.4g powdered nutmeg
14g whole eggs
56g of flour
1g of baking powder


The whipped cream

Soak the gelatin sheet in cold water for 20 minutes. Heat 1/3 of the liquid cream with the sugar, vanilla and grated tonka bean. Infuse for 15 minutes covered. Strain, add the drained gelatin leaf, pour over the rest of the liquid cream and the mascarpone. Mix, place in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours. Whip until you obtain a foamy whipped cream texture.

Poached pears

Make a syrup with the water, caster sugar, sugar and vanilla pods. Peel the pears, carefully scoop them out from underneath using a cookie cutter or, failing that, a vegetable peeler. Keep the peduncles. Poach them over low heat in the syrup, until you obtain a pear that is both firm and tender. To be sure of cooking, stick a knife in it which should insert easily into the pear.

Pear cream

For the cream, puree the pears. Heat it with the vanilla. Dissolve the starch with the lemon juice. Add to the pear puree, bring to the boil. Add the pear brandy. Place in the refrigerator.

Speculoos shortbread

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the blade, cream the butter with the sugar, salt and spices. Add the tempered eggs, finish with the flour/yeast mixture sifted together. Place in the refrigerator. Make shavings of dough on a baking sheet and baking sheet using a large parmesan grater. Cook at 150°C for 15 minutes.


Place the pear cream in the bottom of a bowl. Add a whole poached pear. Place a nice ball of whipped cream on the side of the pear. Sprinkle with broken speculoos.

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