Pears are a fruit I believe is under-utilized. Delicate and fragile, there are lots of varieties on the store shelves in fall, and I love their fragrant sweetness and buttery texture when perfectly ripe. This recipe came when I bought a case of pears at Costco and was suddenly pear-inundated; a bit of “my eyes were bigger than my stomach” issue. I’ve put them in smoothies, sliced them into salads and cubed them over morning oats.
This recipe brings in all my favorite fall flavors, cinnamon, cloves, and maple. You could even sprinkle a little freshly ground nutmeg over them before serving to really punch up the fall flavors. And, while you can certainly add a scoop of whipped cream, ice cream or dollop of yogurt over the top of these, I don’t think you need anything else to make this an appealing and light dessert.
Maple and Spice Poached Pears
(Makes 3 pears)
- 3 Fresh, Ripe But Firm Barlett Or Bosc Pears (with Stems if possible)
- 3 Cups Water
- 1 Cinnamon Stick
- 1 Star Anise
- 6 Whole Cloves
- ¼ Tsp Maple Extract
- ¼ Cup Honey
- 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
Rinse the pears and gently pat dry. Using a sharp paring knife remove the pear core through the bottom of the pear. You can peel the pears if desired, but the skins get pretty tender during the poaching process so I really don’t think this is necessary. In addition, the skin helps the pear stay together, so this is just my preference. Place the pears on their sides in a medium sauce pan.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the water, sugar and honey. Add the rest of the ingredients and pour over the pears. Cover and bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer. Set timer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes gently turn the pears and simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
Remove pears from the poaching liquid and then bring the poaching liquid back to a boil. Boil about 20 minutes, reducing the liquid to about ¾ cup in total. This takes about 20 minutes and you will end up with a lightly thickened syrup (that will thicken a bit more if you refrigerate). Keep a close eye on this as it can easily burn if you let it reduce too far.
To serve warm for an elegant and light dessert, place one pear in a martini glass and pour syrup over the top. Or refrigerate pears and syrup, they are delicious cold for a refreshing dessert or serve them over oatmeal with a sprinkle of walnuts for a tasty breakfast treat.