I must confess, that fruit is not my first choice for a dessert or pudding. I typically turn to a yummy cake or pudding for my sugar-fix. But there is something dramatic and elegant about a poached pear that offers more than you’d first expect.
Poached pears are easy and you can change the nature of the syrup to suit your taste. The basic rule of thumb is to use a sugar syrup – 1 part sugar to 2 parts water. Then you can add any flavour or spice you like. But take heed of the notion that ‘less is more’. Pick a central flavour that will complement the pear and only add other secondary flavours that will enhance or balance the taste.
This recipe is a version of the classic french dish – poire au vin (pears in wine). Perhaps it would be best called poire au cafe
4 pears, preferably Beurre Bosc
2 cups brown sugar
4 cups water
4 tbs coffee or 4 shots espresso
2 cinnamon sticks
Peel each pear carefully, leaving the stem intact. Using a small knife, cut the hard core from the bottom of the pear in one clean circular motion. Check to make sure the pear is clean and presentable because once the pear is cooked, little can be done to correct blemishes.
In a large pot (enough to comfortably bathe the pears), mix the brown sugar and water together with the coffee. Break the cinnamon sticks and add them to the bath together with the cloves. Bring the water to a gentle boil, then reduce it to a very slow simmer.
Add the pears to the bath and allow them to simmer away. You will need to test the pears at the the 30 minute mark and be prepared to let them continue simmering for a further 30 minutes. There is no real way to put an accurate time on the pears because season, ripeness, variety and size of the pear all play a key part. Use a skewer to test the fattest or widest part of the pear – if it is soft and yielding, they are done. Don’t be worried if the pears take longer to cook – it will make for a much more delicious result.
Remove the pears carefully from the pot and set them aside.
Bring the pot of liquid to a rapid boil and reduce the volume to no more than a third of the original volume. The aim is to create a delicious syrup to top the fruit.
When the volume has reduced, pour the contents of the pot through a sieve to the remove debris and to give a glossy clean syrup.
Plate the pears and pour a tablespoon or two of syrup over the top of the pear.
Serve with a small cornell of softly whipped cream.