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Spiced Poached Pears

Posted By Alina On March 27, 2010 @ 21:36 In Beyond Eastern Europe | 69 Comments

I’ve done a little study on poached pears last night and found out there were so many ways to make this dessert that I could easily try one recipe per day for a whole week and still the desserts would be very different. The one I had in mind for a long time was Blushing Pears as posted on Foododelmundo [1], but then I realized I didn’t have any cranberries or raspberries for the juice, so I decided to try a very basic recipe for a start. I combined several recipes for pears poached in sugar syrup, added some honey and a splash of wine (I’m trying to avoid taking alcohol at the moment so just a little splash was good for me), plus some spice that I thought would go along well (it might sound bizarre but I really wanted some cilantro seeds in the syrup!!). I also added a few strips of orange peel and let them boil in the syrup for some 10-15 minutes until they turned translucent. Then I left them to cool and used as a decoration for the dessert.

I also have to note that while most recipes direct to poach pears for 10 to 20 minutes, I kept them simmering for almost 30 minutes. The South African pears I had were not too tender, but I wanted to have them as tender as possible without them losing their shape or becoming mushy of course. I was extremely careful to control their readiness, and about 27 minutes was just the perfect cooking time for me.

The poached pears had a pleasant yellow, translucent colour, a mild flavour with a subtle hint of spice, and tasted wonderful with syrup and vanilla ice cream. I also thought a pinch of diced nuts such as pistachios would be good to add, but unfortunately I didn’t have any at hand.


4 pears
1l water
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup organic honey
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
3 tbsp dry white wine
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 tsp ground ginger
2 whole cloves
5 cilantro seeds
Stripes of fresh orange peel for decoration


Peel the pears leaving the stem. Slice off the bottom of each pear so it will sit upright on the plate.

In a rather deep saucepan, combine boiling water and sugar. Add in wine, honey, and spice. ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon might seem a little bit too much (at least to me as I’m very sensitive to cinnamon flavour), but as the syrup began to boil, some foam from the honey appeared, so I had to remove it together with a part of cinnamon powder that floated on the surface). Bring to a boil and make sure all sugar has dissolved. Reduce the heat and bring the syrup to a simmer. Add in fresh lemon juice (I like to add it in the end as the scent disappears too quickly).

Place the pears into the saucepan one by one, add stripes of orange peel. The orange peel should be ready after about 10 minutes, take it out when ready and let it cool. You will use it later for decoration.

As for the pears, you should be very careful to stop simmering them just as they have saturated with syrup and become tender. Turn them occasionally with a spoon or spatula. As I already said, I simmered mine for 27 minutes, but some recipes say 10 minutes would be enough. I think it all depends on the sort and size of pears you’re using, as well as your personal taste. So check their tenderness with a fork and remove them from the poaching liquid before they turn mushy.

Leave the pears to cool when ready.

Now bring the remaining syrup to a heavy boil and keep it boiling until it reduces to about 1 ½ cup or less. It took me about 30 minutes to reduce the liquid to 1 ½ cup. Be careful with the saucepan, as the boiling, sticky syrup is dangerous like lava!

When the syrup is ready (it will be brown and viscous by now), allow it to cool completely. It will be very sweet and saturated so use just a little bit of it when you serve it with your poached pears.

Serve the poached pears chilled or at room temperature, with syrup, candied orange peel and vanilla ice cream or crème fraiche.

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[1] Foododelmundo: http://foododelmundo.com/2009/12/12/blushing-pears/

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