- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
- 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste
- 1 loaf brioche (about 4 cups), cut into 1/2" cubes
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 star anise
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup sugar
- 12 egg yolks
- 5 firm pears, such as Bartlett, halved, cored, and cut into 2" chunks
- 1 cup dried tart cherries
Preheat oven to 350.°
In a small saucepan over low heat, melt ¼ cup (½ stick) butter and add vanilla bean paste.
In a large bowl, add brioche. Pour vanilla butter over brioche and toss to combine. Spread brioche onto a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden and crisp, 15-20 minutes. Set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 325°.
In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine cream, milk, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, cinnamon stick, star anise, and salt. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and add sugar, whisking until completely dissolved. Whisk yolks into a large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk 1 cup of hot cream into yolks. Return mixture to saucepan with remainder of cream mixture.
Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl.
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, melt remaining ¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) butter. Add pears and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in cherries.
Transfer brioche into a 9”x13” baking dish and add fruit. Pour custard over top. Place baking dish in a roasting pan. Fill roasting pan halfway up sides with water and bake until custard sets, 35-45 minutes. Serve warm.