Poached Pears

Looking for an easy, elegant dessert to serve on New Year’s Eve? Look no further!

Poaching is a great way to use fruit when it’s either off-season and less than perfect, or just a bit under ripe. The fruit is cooked in a flavorful liquid – usually wine – that is sweetened with sugar and/or honey, and flavored with any number of ingredients. This cooking process sweetens and softens the fruit, so you’re actually quite a bit better off starting with firm and under-ripe!

This is a great base recipe, but feel free to experiment with it. You’ll find flavor combinations to try at the end of the recipe- or just run wild with your own imagination! Poached fruit is great when served as slices on top of cheesecakes (or other desserts), on ice cream… served in halves or as whole fruit. A whole poached pear, perched in a martini glass and drizzled with a little chocolate is a statement kind of dessert!

This recipe is from my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker.

Poached Pears

4 Large, firm pears
3 cups fruity red wine (We used Winehaven’s “Sangria” for this)
Sugar 3/4 – 1 cup 175-250 ml
Flavoring items of choice *

Peel the pears, leaving the stems on – it’s prettier that way.

In a medium saucepan, combine your wine with sugar, bring to a boil. Cook, stirring until all sugar is dissolved. Turn the heat down to low, add flavoring items of choice. At this point, it’s a good idea to taste the syrup to make sure that the liquid is sweet enough for your taste.

Add the pears to the pot. If they float, laying a small, heat proof dish on top to weigh them down works well. Cover the pot and allow the fruit to cook through to desired softness – this may happen in 10 minutes, it may take 40-60 minutes. Just poke it every once in awhile to see how it’s doing.

Once pears cooked through, remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Once cool, move to fridge to chill for at least an hour.

When ready to serve, remove pears from poaching liquid. To make a sauce to serve with the pears, return the poaching liquid to the stove top, simmer until reduced in volume and thickened.

* Flavoring items of choice: Vanilla beans (cut in half, lengthwise), whole cloves, zest/juice of citrus fruits, tea bags, cinnamon sticks, mint leaves, rosemary… whatever you feel like using! I recommend not using too many different flavors – I like to let the flavor of the fruit shine through. For this recipe, we used one vanilla bean, and the peels of two clementine oranges.

* Liquid variations: Wine – red, white, rose, champagne, mead – any type that you like drinking. Favorite spirits, such as rum, whisky, and brandy can also be used. Fruit juice or water can be added for extra flavor, or to cut too-strong flavors.

Interested in boozy culinary experiments? You’ll LOVE my first cookbook, The Spirited Baker!

Combining liqueurs with more traditional baking ingredients can yield spectacular results.Try Mango Mojito Upside Down Cake, Candy Apple Flan, Jalapeno Beer Peanut Brittle, Lynchburg Lemonade Cupcakes, Pina Colada Rum Cake, Strawberry Daiquiri Chiffon Pie, and so much more.

To further add to your creative possibilities, the first chapter teaches how to infuse spirits to make both basic and cream liqueurs, as well as home made flavor extracts! This book contains over 160 easy to make recipes, with variation suggestions to help create hundreds more! Order your hard copy here, or digital edition here.

Interested in Gluten-free cooking and baking? You’ll LOVE Beyond Flour: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

How many times have you come across a gluten-free recipe claiming to be “just as good as the normal version!”, only to wind up with weird textures, aftertastes, etc? Most gluten-free recipes are developed by taking a “normal” recipe, and swapping in a simulated “all purpose” gluten-free flour… whether store bought, or a homemade version. “Beyond Flour” takes a different approach: developing the recipe from scratch. Rather than swapping out the flour for an “all purpose” mix, I use various alternative flours as individual ingredients – skillfully blending flavours, textures, and other properties unique to each flour. Supporting ingredients and different techniques are also utilized to achieve the perfect end goal … not just a “reasonable facsimile”. Order your copy here.

Looking for even MORE fantastic gluten-free recipes? Beyond Flour now has a sequel: Beyond Flour 2: A Fresh Approach to Gluten-Free Cooking and Baking!

Imagine gluten-free foods that are as good – or better! – than their traditional, gluten-filled counterparts. Imagine no longer settling for foods with bizarre after-tastes, gummy consistency, and/or cardboard texture. Imagine graham crackers that taste just like the real thing. Crisp, flaky crackers…without the sandy texture. Hybrid tortillas that: look and act like flour tortillas, with the taste of fresh roasted corn! Imagine chewy, delicious cookies that *everyone* will want to eat! Imagine BAGELS. If you’ve cooked from “Beyond Flour”, you already know that these fantasies can be reality – it’s all in the development of the recipes. Order your copy here.

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