Poached Pears

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Poached Pears

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Port Poached Pears

This is a highly underrated dessert that’s simple to make, looks dramatically beautiful when served, especially when contrasting the rich deep red with bright white cream, and a delicious option for those who prefer non-chocolate treats. While a delicious dessert flavoured with cinnamon and other warming spices during the festive season, this recipe uses citrus and vanilla, perfect for romantic dinners or to end a summer meal. We’ve reduced the port and added water, so while it’s still rich and fruity, it doesn’t have a very strong alcohol flavour.

Ingredients

  • 450ml port
  • 300ml water
  • 1-2 strips orange zest
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • 1 strip lemon zest
  • ½ vanilla pod, seeds removed & reserved*
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 4 firm pears
  • To serve:
  • Poaching syrup
  • 200ml double cream
  • *Reserved vanilla seeds
  • 450ml port
  • 300ml water
  • 1-2 strips orange zest
  • Juice from 1 orange
  • 1 strip lemon zest
  • ½ vanilla pod, seeds removed & reserved*
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 4 firm pears
  • To serve:
  • Poaching syrup
  • 200ml double cream
  • *Reserved vanilla seeds

Instructions

  1. Combine port, water, zest, orange juice, vanilla pod and caster sugar in a pot large enough to fit pears lying down on their sides. Stir together over medium high heat until sugar has dissolved.
  2. Trim off the bottom of each pear so that they will easily sit upright once serves. (Optional, use a melon baller or teaspoon to hollow out the pear to remove the core.) Peel each pear, leaving the stem attached on top.
  3. Submerge pears in poaching liquid, lying them down on their sides, and bring to a boil.
  4. Decrease heat to low until liquid is barely simmering. Cover pot with lid and leave to poach until pears are tender to the centre, use a toothpick to check. Depending on the size of the pears, 25-30 minutes for pears with cores, 15-20 minutes for pears with cores removed. Tip: If pears are not completely submerged in liquid, turn them over halfway through poaching.
  5. Remove pot from heat and leave pears to cool completely in the syrup, still covered with the lid. The longer they’re left in the liquid, the darker red they will be stained. It’s best to leave them overnight at room temperature. Refrigerate with poaching liquid until needed. Tip: Again, if they’re not completely submerged, turn them every hour or so, so that they stain evenly. This can be done during the day before serving.
  6. Remove pears from liquid and set aside. Use a slotted spoon to remove zest and vanilla pod, which can be discarded. Place pot with liquid over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Cook until syrup has reduced by about 1/3.
  7. If serving your dessert warm, pop the pears back into the warm syrup for about 5 minutes to warm up. Otherwise, leave syrup to cool. Tip: There will be quite a lot of syrup so to speed up the cooling process, simply remove enough to serve with your pears (about 60ml per pear) and leave to cool separately in the fridge.
  8. To serve, add some of the reserved vanilla seeds to the cream, the tip of a knife will do (keep the rest to use in other bakes) and whisk lightly until slightly thickened (the consistency similar to the cream on an Irish coffee). Pour cream into a clean serving jug.
  9. Place pears in shallow bowls then spoon syrup over them. Serve cream at the table.
  10. Pears can be made up to 3 days in advance, keep them in the poaching liquid in the fridge until needed.
  11. Don’t throw away the leftover syrup! It can be used in cocktails as a simple syrup or as a cordial mixed with still or sparkling water. Also, delicious drizzled over ice-cream or yoghurt. Keep syrup in the fridge. Leftover pears cut into slices are also delicious served with ice-cream, yoghurt or custard.
  12. Combine port, water, zest, orange juice, vanilla pod and caster sugar in a pot large enough to fit pears lying down on their sides. Stir together over medium high heat until sugar has dissolved.
  13. Trim off the bottom of each pear so that they will easily sit upright once serves. (Optional, use a melon baller or teaspoon to hollow out the pear to remove the core.) Peel each pear, leaving the stem attached on top.
  14. Submerge pears in poaching liquid, lying them down on their sides, and bring to a boil.
  15. Decrease heat to low until liquid is barely simmering. Cover pot with lid and leave to poach until pears are tender to the centre, use a toothpick to check. Depending on the size of the pears, 25-30 minutes for pears with cores, 15-20 minutes for pears with cores removed. Tip: If pears are not completely submerged in liquid, turn them over halfway through poaching.
  16. Remove pot from heat and leave pears to cool completely in the syrup, still covered with the lid. The longer they’re left in the liquid, the darker red they will be stained. It’s best to leave them overnight at room temperature. Refrigerate with poaching liquid until needed. Tip: Again, if they’re not completely submerged, turn them every hour or so, so that they stain evenly. This can be done during the day before serving.
  17. Remove pears from liquid and set aside. Use a slotted spoon to remove zest and vanilla pod, which can be discarded. Place pot with liquid over medium high heat and bring to a boil. Cook until syrup has reduced by about 1/3.
  18. If serving your dessert warm, pop the pears back into the warm syrup for about 5 minutes to warm up. Otherwise, leave syrup to cool. Tip: There will be quite a lot of syrup so to speed up the cooling process, simply remove enough to serve with your pears (about 60ml per pear) and leave to cool separately in the fridge.
  19. To serve, add some of the reserved vanilla seeds to the cream, the tip of a knife will do (keep the rest to use in other bakes) and whisk lightly until slightly thickened (the consistency similar to the cream on an Irish coffee). Pour cream into a clean serving jug.
  20. Place pears in shallow bowls then spoon syrup over them. Serve cream at the table.
  21. Pears can be made up to 3 days in advance, keep them in the poaching liquid in the fridge until needed.
  22. Don’t throw away the leftover syrup! It can be used in cocktails as a simple syrup or as a cordial mixed with still or sparkling water. Also, delicious drizzled over ice-cream or yoghurt. Keep syrup in the fridge. Leftover pears cut into slices are also delicious served with ice-cream, yoghurt or custard.
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