A simple dessert that is elegant while being delightfully flavorful? It may sound too good to be true, but that's what you'll get with this poached pears recipe. My version of this classic French dessert enhances the pears' natural sweetness using a blend of fragrant spices. The result is a seductively sweet, spicy, and fruity treat with a velvety texture. Yum!
WHY WE LOVE THIS RECIPE
- The recipe is easy to make. These simple ingredients come together in a pressure cooker to make the juiciest poached pears with a spicy aroma that will have everyone crowding the kitchen.
- They look and taste elegant. Poached pears are a delicious treat to finish off a nice dinner. Biscotti or homemade custard are perfect accompaniments to this flavorful dessert.
- A great breakfast option. Top your granola and yogurt bowl with slices of poached pears drizzled with their poaching liquid for a yummy start to the day.
- Choose to make it non-alcoholic. If you want to keep this dessert spirit-free, you can substitute the wine with fruit juice. You can't go wrong with apple or cherry juice as your poaching liquid.
Transform ordinary pears from drab to fab with these ingredients:
- Apple juice
- Mulling spices
- Pears: Bosc pears are an excellent choice for this fruit dessert. They are mildly sweet and crisp and retain their shape well while being cooked. Their mild taste makes them a perfect canvas for the flavors of the spicy poaching liquid.
- Wine: This is optional. If you want to use mirin rice wine like I did, it adds nice flavor. Pick a red wine like a Shiraz, Merlot, or Cabernet Sauvignon if you want scarlet-tinted poached pears. Poaching pears in white wine sauce is the classic way to make this dessert. You can go with a White Zinfandel, Chardonnay, or Riesling. If you're skipping the wine simply replace it with more fruit juice.
- Apple juice: This adds another level of flavor to the pears. Moreover, if you use fresh juice, you get to reap all the health benefits of apples.
- Mulling spices: I used the Williams Sonoma Mulling Spices blend that combines warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and orange. These spices beautifully complement the natural sweetness of the pears. If you prefer to use an organic blend of mulling spices that's a great option too.
- Cherries: Fresh or frozen cherries add a richness and gentle acidity that perfectly pairs the sweet pears. Plus, they are great for the final presentation.
STEP 1: PREPARE THE POACHING LIQUID AND PEARS
Peel the pears but keep the stems intact. Trim the base of the fruit. This allows the pears to stay upright and retain their shape throughout the cooking process.
Pears will discolor if you peel them too early, so make sure your poaching liquid is ready before you peel them. You can also rub them with a cut lemon immediately after peeling to keep them from turning brown.
STEP 2: POACH THE PEARS
Add the peeled pears to the poaching liquid. Place them in an upright manner. Cover the pot and bring it to full pressure over high heat.
Once the pressure cooker whistles, reduce the heat to low and cook at pressure for 5 minutes. When the time is up, remove the pot from the heat and let the pressure release naturally. Take the lid off and carefully remove the pears with a slotted spoon.
STEP 3: MAKE THE SYRUP
Use a fine-mesh strainer to strain the cooking liquid. Don't discard the cherries with the used mulling spices. Instead, pick them out and put them aside for later use.
Return the liquid to the pot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a medium-high and cook down the liquid until it gets foamy and starts to thicken. This should take about 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat. The liquid will continue to thicken as it cools.
STEP 4: PLATE THE POACHED PEARS
Make some fresh lemon zest with a grater or a microplane zester. Make sure you don't grate the bitter white pith that's under the peel.
Carefully place the poached pears on their plates. Arrange the cherries around the pears. Drizzle the syrup over the pears and cherries.
Garnish the pears with the zest and chocolate shavings. Add a dollop of dairy-free coconut whipped topping (I added natural purple food coloring to mine for a contrast of color). Finish off with some mint leaves.
Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature. Enjoy!
- Halving the pears equals shorter cooking time. If you choose to core and halve the pears, you will only need to cook them for half the recommended time.
- Use a stockpot to poach the pears. This poached pears recipe can also be prepared using a regular stockpot. Bring the poaching liquid to a boil on medium heat and add the pears. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the pot and cook the pears until they are tender when pierced.
- Swap wine with liqueur. If you don't have wine, you can use ¼ cup of liqueur in your poached pears recipe. Cointreau or Grand Marnier are good choices.
- Get a citrus kick. If you want to add a bit of tang to your recipe, reduce mulling spices and throw in some citrus peels. Using a vegetable peeler, peel strips of lemon or orange rind (don't get to the bitter white pith). Add the strips to the cooking liquid together with the spices. After the pears are cooked, remove the citrus strips.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can I use another variety of pears?
If you can't get Bosc pears, try the Anjou variety. They are juicy but also have a firm texture. Their taste is not overly sweet, and there's even a hint of lemon or lime when you bite into them. Asian pears are another great alternative. They are refreshingly sweet with a crunchy yet crispy texture. They tend to keep their shape after cooking. Bartlett pears bruise easily and turn to mush under the slightest heat. They are better suited for making pear sauce or pear butter.
Can I use overripe pears?
As much as possible, use ripe fruit in this recipe for poached pears. The flesh of overripe pears is soft and mealy. They will be less flavorful as you can't poach them for too long, or they'll turn to mush.
How long will the poached pears keep?
Poached pears will keep for roughly a week in the fridge. You can also store them in a freezer with their poaching liquid for up to 3 months. Alternatively, you can preserve poached pears using the canning method. Canned poached pears will keep in your pantry for several months. Plus, they make a nice homemade holiday gift!
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