You’ve seen these on fancy food shows before and said to yourself, “I’m totally gonna make that…”, before smashing your hand back into the Doritos bag and forgetting about it. If this sounds like you, don’t be afraid of this “posh” and “fancy” sounding dessert; poached fruit is versatile and can be served country style or dressed up for company.
GET CHEEFY TIP!- The proportions of sugar, butter, etc., and the cooking times listed below are all variable to how ripe your fruit is, and how sweet you’d like this dessert. The pears we used were fairly underripe (they would have been firm, and had resistance under our teeth if eaten raw), so our cooking time was roughly 20-30 minutes; if the pears you use are ripe to overripe, they may need as little as 5-10 minutes to cook until soft. Er on the side “overcooking” your pears as you, and your guests, will have to be able to get through them with a spoon.
FOR THE PEARS:
- 3-5 Pears (we used D’Anjou) peeled, halved, and cored
- Bank on 1 pear per guest (giving you two halves per guest).
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 2 Cups White Wine (water, or fruit juice can also be used)
- 1-2 Tablespoons Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
- Pinch of Table Salt
- Less than an 1/8 teaspoon equals a “pinch”
- 1 Cup Heavy Cream
- 1/2 Cup Roughly Chopped Walnuts, Hazelnuts, or Pecans (optional garnish)
- 1/2 Cup Roughly Chopped Shortbread Cookies (optional garnish)
- Sour Cream (optional garnish)
- Vanilla Ice Cream (optional garnish)
- Before you begin, start by tasting a piece from one of your pears; gauge how sweet, and ripe they are before proceeding (following the Get Cheffy guidelines mentioned above). Once you’ve tasted your fruit, and understood how long a cooking time, and how much sugar, they might need, begin to brown your pear halves. In a non-stick skillet, heat your two tablespoons butter over medium/medium-high heat until melted. Add your pears, cut side down, to the pan, and allow to cook over medium/medium-high heat for 5-10 minutes. Adjust your heat as needed, but you’re looking to achieve a browned/lightly-seared exterior on the cut side of the pears. Flip one of the pears over at the 5 minute mark, and check your progress (and adjust your heat as needed). After 5-10 minutes searing, add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar to the pan and allow to melt into the heated butter (30 seconds). Add your 2 cups of wine, water, or juice and pinch of table salt, and bring to a boil before covering, and reducing your heat to a simmer. Depending on the ripeness of the fruit you’re using, your pears could take 5-20 minutes of additional cooking time. After 5-10 minutes on simmer, gently press one of the pears with the back of a butter knife; the butter knife will easily slide in/out with no resistance when your pears are cooked. Once your pears are cooked, remove the lid from the pot, and allow your sauce to reduce, uncovered. After 5 minutes, lower your heat to a gentle simmer and notice the color of the poaching liquid; as you near the end of cooking time, you’ll begin to see the color of the sauce darken as the sugar caramelizes. Once your sauce has reduced, and turned a dark amber color, gently remove your pears and place them on your serving platter. With your heat still on low, add your cream and gently swirl to combine with your caramelized poaching liquid. Caramelized sugar will bubble up violently when you add liquid to it…..be mindful when adding your cream, and allow the bubbles to subside (5-10 seconds) before swirling to combine. Allow to heat on low for 1-2 minutes. Place a pear half into individual bowls of vanilla ice cream, and spoon sauce over pear halves. Garnish with walnuts, cookies, sour cream, and serve.