Poached pears are the Cinderellas of the fruit world. Sitting modestly in the produce aisle, raw pears don’t turn heads. But serve them poached, and dinner guests will fawn over their sophisticated elegance. Even if you don’t possess any fairy godmother magic, you have the power to transform pears from drab to fab with as little as a pot and a few key ingredients.
First you’re going to need some pears—Bosc, Anjou, and Bartlett are common choices. Be sure that they are still rather firm and not too ripe. Then, peel them and cut out the cores via the base of the fruit. Some people also slice a few millimeters off the bottom of the pear, creating a flat surface on which it can stand upright. As for the stem, leave it on in the name of style.
Next it’s time to draw a bath for the pears, for which it’s common to use either water or wine. Although the thought of pears drinking a bottle of red instead of me makes me cringe, this method does lend the final product a vibrant ruby hue. Depending on your recipe and preference, you’ll also add a sweetener, vanilla, and spices like cinnamon and clove. You’ll bring this mixture to a boil and then down to a simmer. When you add the pears, the liquid should just cover their tops.
As the pears spend about 20 minutes in their hot tub, you’ll need to turn them a bit in order to achieve even cooking and coloring throughout. When you think they’re ready, poke one with a knife or fork. If you meet no resistance, it’s time to pull them out.
At this point, you may choose to let the pears and the liquid hang out overnight in the fridge, allowing the fruit to absorb even more flavor. Another option is to strain any solids from the liquid and continue reducing it in a saucepan until it reaches a syrup-like consistency. Then drizzle the reduction over the pears before serving.
Although they appear glamorous, poached pears are actually quite easygoing. You can serve them warm or cool with pretty much anything from whipped cream to chocolate to cake and pastries. You can keep them in your fridge for up to five days. And you can even add them into baked goods, either whole or diced.
Ready to whip up one of these extreme makeovers in your very own kitchen? Here are a few recipes you can use to write your pear Cinderella story!
Use this recipe to get the classic, deep-red look. Get the recipe.
If you’re more likely to have white wine in the house, this one’s for you. Get the recipe.
It’s a truth we’ve known since we started eating solid foods: Everything’s better with chocolate and ice cream. Get the recipe.
This simple recipe uses tea bags to lend a spicy flavor. Get the recipe.
Move over, caramel apples. Get the recipe.
You could serve your poached pear next to a pastry…or you could wrap it in strips of puff pastry and bake yourself a pear-in-a-blanket! Get the recipe.
Here’s one way to use poached pears as a baking ingredient. Get the recipe.
The pears form a sort of crown atop this ginger cake that’s also garnished with crushed chocolate coated honeycomb. Get the recipe.