After the busiest Eat Boutique Holiday Market (check out those photos), I’m searching for a little quiet time as we lead up to the big holiday (Christmas!). Sean’s recipe for poached pears is the sort of peace I seek right now, a recipe that can hum away on the stove while I finally hang a few strings of lights or munch on a few cookies from my neighbor (because I’m so behind in cookie-munching, too). I may take them an entirely different way, serving these poached pears with eggnog ice cream. Either way, I’m inspired to have a beautiful holiday. Happy Christmas!
As Christmas edges closer, we all try to streamline and simplify life in the kitchen, keeping a few quick recipes up our sleeves. I look for recipes that offer the best reward for minimal effort. This poached pear is exactly that – something we can leave alone on the stove giving us time to catch up with old friends back home for the holidays.
And after a few weeks of relentless indulgence, we can get a bit fed up with the rich flavors of Christmas, so here’s a bit of an antidote: a dessert that’s delicate and floral, with an orchard perfume of bergamot, pear, and thyme. Earl Grey is one of my favorite flavors with its big-blossomed aroma: sweet, citrusy, sometimes spicy, sometimes woody. For me, a cup of Earl Grey is like a warm embrace; a moment to be savoured in my day.
This poached pear is a kind of palette cleanser between all the cookies, fruitcake, gingerbread, and mince pies. Make sure you cook the pears on a low simmer until the flesh almost melts and becomes as soft as warm butter. I’ve stripped this dessert right back, but if you’re feeling extravagant, you could always add an Earl Grey and honey ice cream and crumble some homemade torta de aceite biscuits on top instead of the almonds. Or maybe save that one for a cold January pick-me-up (because we all need one of those).
Poached Earl Grey Pears with Vanilla Cream
Makes: 4 Pears
- 4 cups water
- 4 Earl Grey teabags
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 4 pears
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean, seeded
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
- 4 sprigs lemon thyme, for garnishing
- Pour the water into a medium saucepan, add the teabags and lemon zest. Bring to the boil, then turn off the heat and let the flavours infuse for 4 minutes. Remove the lemon and tea and discard. Note, if you leave the tea to brew for too long, it will turn bitter.
- Peel the pears and cut them in half lengthways. Add them to the tea liquid. Make sure all the pears are submerged, if not, add a touch more water. Pour in 1/2 cup sugar.
- Bring the liquid back up to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 to 30 minutes, or until super soft.
- Meanwhile, add the vanilla and cream to a mixing bowl and whip the cream until just firm. Set aside.
- Remove the pears from the liquid and set aside. Pour 2/3 of the liquid into a separate dish for a later use, if you like. Add the remaining 1/2 cup sugar to the saucepan. Bring the liquid back up to a boil and heat until it has reduced to a thick syrup.
- Meanwhile, remove the tough seeded centers of the pears with a melon baller or knife so there’s a small well in each pear.
- Place two pear halves on a plate. Fill the cored centers with cream, and drizzle a spoonful of earl grey syrup around the plate. Finish with a sprinkle of toasted almonds and a few leaves of lemon thyme.
Eat Boutique is an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista. After hosting pop-up markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie is now focused on opening her first permanent Eat Boutique–a food-retail concept space with a new way to the very best food. Her second cookbook, A New Way to Food: Recipes That Revamped My Pantry & Made Me Love Me, At Last, will be published by Roost Books/Penguin Random House in 2019. Her first cookbook, Food Gift Love, features more than 100 food gift recipes to make, wrap, and share and is available wherever you find favorite cookbooks.