When fruits are not at peak quality and you want to serve them as a dessert, this is the way to prepare them. With this recipe, you can transform an otherwise unpalatable piece of supermarket pear into something light, wonderfully fragrant and very worth eating. I like this dessert as it can be prepared days in advance. The flavours of coffee, underlying notes of orange, cinnamon and cloves makes this a rich yet delightfully light dessert. I think it is quite elegant.

Coffee Poached Pears Scented With Orange, Cinnamon And Cloves

Prep: 20 minutes 
Cook: 20 minutes – 1 hour depending on how ripe pears are. + 10 minutes to reduce poaching liquid to a syrup.
Inactive: 6 hours or overnight to chill in the refrigerator.
Level: Easy
Makes: 8
Oven Temperature:
Can recipe be doubled? Yes. You can reuse poaching liquid to make another batch. You may have to add more water to have the poaching liquid almost cover the pears. 
Make ahead? Keeps well up to 4 days.

Ingredients

8 Bosc pears or any other pears you can get a hold of *
1/2 cup (4oz)(110g) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (4oz)(110g) brown sugar
3 cups (750ml) strong black coffee
2 cups (750ml) water
1/4  cup coffee liqueur
1 strip of orange peel**
1 large cinnamon stick
2 cloves
To serve
-Any or a combination of the ingredients below:
-Vanilla ice cream
-Clotted, double/thickened, whipping or pouring cream, creme anglaise (custard cream) or mascarpone.***
-Coffee liqueur
-Coffee syrup made from reducing poaching liquid
-Toasted slivered almonds
* Bosc, Anjou or Comice pears keeps its shape better but other varieties will work. Choose ripe and firm (not hard) pears and avoid pears that are already too ripe.
** Remove as much of the white pith as possible. The pith is bitter.
*** Do not use sour cream, creme fraiche or yogurt. The sour element does not pair well with coffee. 

Method

Prepare the pears
1. With a melon baller, metal measuring spoon or a sharp vegetable knife, remove a 1″ (2.5cm) ball from the bottom core of each pear. This will help the pear to sit nicely on its serving plate after it is cooked.
2. To peel the pears, with a sharp vegetable knife or vegetable peeler, start peeling from the bottom of pears, working in circles and upwards. Stop at the bottom neck of the pear. You would then, peel lengthwise from the bottom neck of pear upwards towards the stem. If you were to randomly peel your pears, you would not get the nice polished look with your end product. Leave the stems on.

Poaching pears
1. Use a wide bottom pot, that will sit all 8 pears in one layer. Sit all the pears in it, add all the ingredients. The liquid should cover the pears, if not, top with water. Bring to a boil over high heat.
2. While waiting for it to come to a boil, make a cartouche. Cut a circle of parchment paper to fit the surface of the poaching liquid. Snip off tiny holes (about three should do) to allow for steam to escape and to allow the paper to sit on the pears. This not only allows for even cooking, it will colour your pears evenly and reduce the rate of evaporation. Top up with water if necessary to keep pears submerged. Place cartouche over pears.
3. When the poaching liquid comes to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low. A simmer is what you want. Depending on how ripe the pears are, it should take between 20 minutes to 1 hour for the pears to be ready. When a knife/skewer/toothpick goes through it easily as if it was softened butter, turn off the heat.  Leave the pears to cool on the stove.
4. When cooled, refrigerate until chilled through, about 6 hours and best overnight.
5. At least 2 hours before you serve pears, reduce 1 cup of poaching liquid over high heat until it has a light syrup consistency similar to maple syrup. Return to refrigerator and chill until needed.

To serve
The sinful version
1. Stand pear on plate.
2. Place a scoop of vanilla ice cream next to pear.
3. Drizzle 1 Tablespoon of coffee liqueur over pear and ice cream.
4. Shower it with toasted slivered almonds.
5. Leave on the table, a small jug each of coffee syrup and cream for diners to help themselves.

The weight watcher’s version
1. Stand pear on plate.
2. Drizzle 1 Tablespoon of coffee syrup.
3. Rain down some toasted slivered almonds over pear.
4. Cheat by adding a spoon of cream to the side of pear.
5. Leave on the table, a small jug each of coffee syrup for diners to help themselves.

The weight watcher’s version. Taste just as good.

Tips

1. What to do with all the poaching liquid?
(1) Poach more pears!
(2) Reduce all the poaching liquid into a thick syrup and serve it over vanilla ice cream, pancakes, waffles or replace the sugar in your morning coffee with this syrup.

2. Two other Poached Pear recipes to try

(1) Yellowest Saffron Poached Pears

(2) Moscato d’Asti Poached Pears Served With Yuzu Mascarpone


3. Serve Poached Pears as dessert to follow a heavy main course
I often prepare these pears for dessert when I am planning to serve a more substantial main course. After a heavy meal with close to zero stomach capacity left, this is about the only dessert that my diners might say “yes” to. The last time I served these was after my unctuous Sausage and Bacon Pasta In Smoky Tomato Sauce.

I would like a serving of this Sausage and Bacon Pasta In  Smoky Tomato Sauce now please. Thereafter, I would be quite happy with one Coffee Poached Pear.
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