Searching for an easy yet elegant seasonal dessert? Look no further! Poached pears, simmered in white wine, honey, vanilla, & spices.
Today I’m sharing kind of a fancy-pants dessert recipe: poached pears!
They’re so elegant I can’t help but think of them this way. I imagine eating them at a dressy holiday party, bridal shower, or ladies’ brunch.
But the truth is, they’re incredibly easy to make!
And I especially love them at this time of year. Pears are at the peak of their season during late fall and winter. They’re so delicious baked into this Pear Gingerbread Upside Down Cake, this Pear Cranberry Crisp, or these Pear Dumplings.
And because this recipe includes warm spices like cinnamon, ginger, and vanilla bean, it’s perfect for when the weather turns cool.
Read on to learn all about this classic poached pear recipe!
WHAT ARE POACHED PEARS?
Poached pears are just cooked pears that have been simmered in a sweet and fragrant liquid. They’re soft and juicy, and they make a really nice light dessert.
You can add anything you like to the liquid. Wine, honey, lemon, vanilla, and spices like ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and star anise are typical. But you can really get creative, swap ingredients out, and make them your own.
HOW TO MAKE POACHED PEARS
To make this easy recipe, start with a large, heavy-bottomed pot. I like to use my enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. Here’s a link to the kind I have: Dutch oven.
Add wine (I used a white sauvignon blanc, but you could use red wine instead or even port would be nice), water, sugar, honey, lemon zest, fresh ginger, a cinnamon stick, and a vanilla bean, and give everything a quick stir.
This is your poaching liquid. Set this over medium heat until it comes to a simmer.
Once your poaching liquid has reached a simmer, go ahead and peel your pears. (You want to use a very firm variety of pear, such as Bartlett or Anjou. I would not recommend Bosc pears, as they are too soft and they will just turn to mush.)
Turn the heat down to low so that the liquid is barely simmering, then add the pears as soon as they are peeled. This way they won’t discolor and turn brown.
Allow the pears to simmer in this liquid, turning them every so often, until they are very soft. You should be able to pierce them with the tip of a knife, and feel no resistance whatsoever.
Once the pears are tender, remove them from the poaching liquid and turn the heat up to high. Boil the liquid and allow it to reduce to a thick syrup. This syrup can be drizzled over the pears for extra shine and sweetness.
Serve poached pears warm, at room temperature, or chilled. It’s up to you!
WHAT GOES WITH POACHED PEARS?
These poached pears are just lovely as is, with a little drizzle of the liquid they were poached in. Or, they’d be fantastic served on a pool of chocolate sauce or salted caramel sauce. Raspberry sauce would be delicious as well!
They’re also very good with vanilla ice cream, or a dollop of creme fraiche or mascarpone cheese.
You could even add them to salads! They’re really nice in a salad with bitter greens like frisee, along with crumbled blue cheese and toasted walnuts. A really classic combination of flavors.
ARE THEY GLUTEN-FREE?
These poached pears are 100% gluten-free, so if you or someone you love has an intolerance, you can serve these without a worry.
They are also egg-free and nut-free, and vegetarian.
Since this recipe includes honey, they are not vegan. But you could easily swap out the honey for maple syrup if you wanted a vegan version.
CAN YOU CAN THEM?
If you’d like to preserve these poached pears, they can be canned.
Once they are soft, transfer them to sterilized jars and add the poaching liquid (skip the step of reducing the liquid). Wipe the edges of the jars with a clean cloth, pop on the lids, and screw on the rings. Then submerge the jars in boiling water for 15 minutes.
Remove the jars from the boiling water and allow them to come to room temperature. The “button” on the lid should have suctioned down. This is how you know you’ve done it properly.
Canned pears will keep in a cupboard (at room temperature) for several months. <-- Which means they make a really nice homemade holiday gift!
HOW LONG WILL THEY KEEP?
If you don’t process them in jars, poached pears will keep for a week or so in the fridge. Or, you can freeze them (along with the poaching liquid). They will last in the freezer for about 2 to 3 months.
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- Place the wine, water, sugar, honey, lemon zest, ginger, and cinnamon stick in a large pot.
- Split the vanilla bean, remove the seeds, and add both the seeds and the pod to the pot.
- Stir the mixture and place it over medium heat, until it comes to a low simmer.
- When it has reached a simmer, turn the heat down to low, peel the pears, and add them to the pot.
- Place a circle of parchment or a plate directly on top of the pears, to weigh them down and prevent browning.
- Simmer the pears in the liquid until they are very soft (approx. 20 minutes).
- Remove the poached pears from the pot, turn the heat up to high, and boil the liquid until it's reduced to a syrup.
- Serve the poached pears warm, at room temperature, or chilled, with a drizzle of the syrup.