Hmmm. I just noticed that lots of the recent recipes contain bacon, or some form of bacon. Time to do something a little different today.
Poached pears are an underappreciated dessert. I often forget about poached pears. But then I'm reminded again when I go to my favorite place to eat, The Restaurant, where poached pears are always on the dessert menu. Sometimes I get a craving for a sweet poached pear at home. And sometimes I make myself some.
There are many different ways to flavor a poached pear. But the main recipe is always the same--poach the pears in a simple syrup of sugar and water. Wine can be added for additional flavor or color. Spices can be as simple as vanilla or citrus zest, or as spicy as five-spice powder, star anise, or ginger. This is the most basic poached pear--just simple syrup flavored with lemon zest and vanilla. You can serve it with ice cream, whipped cream, with cake, or by itself.
Start out with sugar and water.
You'll do a better job than me and not completely destroy your lemon zest, right?
Because fall is coming and cinnamon is a fall spice. I guess.
Turn the stove on and let your mixture come to at least a low boil. You want it to be hot enough to melt all the sugar.
If you wanted this to be an even more impressive dessert, you could leave the pears whole (you could seed them, or not, your choice.) They do look very pretty, with their stems still on.
If you use vanilla bean, add it at the beginning, with the zest. Cut the bean in half and scrape out all the vanilla caviar.
If you're using regular vanilla extract, add it now. My feeling is that if you add it too early, the vanilla liquer will burn off and leave you with not-that-much flavor. By adding it now, the pears get a little time to absorb the vanilla liquid, and because the syrup isn't boiling, it won't burn off as fast.
If you're poaching whole pears, you may have to move them around to make sure all sides get time in the syrup.
What a quick and fun dessert! If you wanted, you could reduce some of the syrup down and pour it over the top of the pears. They are great cold or hot, by themselves or with another dessert. They are good for breakfast too! Try poaching your own pears and using your favorite spicy blends or fruity wines.
Recipe: Poached Pears
5 c. water
2 1/2 c. sugar
4 1x3" strips of lemon zest (or the equivalent)
1 2" cinnamon stick
1/2 tsp. vanilla (or 1/2 vanilla bean)
3 firm pears, peeled (and seeded, if desired)
Combine water, sugar, lemon zest, and cinnamon stick in a large pot. If using a vanilla bean, halve the bean lengthwise and scrape out the vanilla caviar. Add all to the pot. Heat until reaching a gentle boil, to melt the sugar.
When syrup has come to a boil, lower heat to bring the syrup to a simmer. Add vanilla, if using extract, and pears. Poach pears for 5-7 minutes, making sure all parts of the pear are covered by syrup.
Serve immediately, or store in a tightly-lidded container for up to 5 days. Reheat pears slowly, in syrup.