As a food blogger, I find that one of the most beautiful photo subjects I find somewhat over-running my Pinterest ‘inspo’ board, is poached pears. Whether they are soaked in wine, spice or liqueur (perhaps even all three), poached pears look so incredibly stunning, each and every time.
But I think, the real beauty lies in how little effort is required to turn them out.
A ripe pear is in itself, an elegant treat. Far removed from the mushy, grainy, tinned variety that you may have experienced as a kid (I know I certainly did), a truly ripe, in season pear is as equally floral as it is juicy and sweet. With its elongated neck and balletic curves, it really is hard to mess up a transformation such as the one I am talking about right now.
Seriously, poaching fruit is simple and soulful – in my opinion, it’s the best way to let it shine without being too OTT. So, let’s take a closer look at how to prove to any elegant dinner party (or casual affair) that apples no longer rule, and that the humble pear is the exact opposite of boring.
For all intents and purposes, pears really can be soaked in anything, but the combination of pear, vanilla and almond is undeniably astounding – enter Amaretto liqueur. It all sounds so fancy, but seriously, the hardest part to this recipe is peeling the pears. But once poached in vanilla and spice and then left to soak in Amaretto, the flavours are absorbed and become next-level (and also super-sophisticated, if I do say so myself).
My advice around this recipe would be to source Packhams Triumph pears – not only are they perfect in size, but also firm and juicy (so they won’t turn to mush when soaked, and I like it when sexy things hold their shape) and they are totally in abundance this time of year.
Secondly, try and make the recipe a little ahead of time. Once poached, the pears need to take a long, relaxing bath in the syrup for a few days to pick up that special almond flavour. Put simply, the longer the pears are left to soak, the deeper the flavour gets (and who doesn’t want to get the most out of the coin they just splurged on that bottle of Amaretto?).
Finally, it’s serving time. Oh, so many options! Serve the Amaretto pears simply as they are with a generous lashing of that syrup spooned alongside. Or, do that, but hit the giddy heights of amazing by adding a silky, creamy, scoop of vanilla bean ice cream alongside. They would also pear (see what I did there?) beautifully with vanilla rice pudding, sliced up and high-crowned atop a chocolate and caramel layer cake, sliced up as a gorgeous condiment on a cheese board or, even gifted in a jar as a hand-made seasonal gesture.
See? The list is kind of endless. These Spiced Amaretto Pears are soft and fragrant, and really, no matter what you do, just form one of those beautifully presented desserts that is so incredibly easy to make that you won’t help but feel like you’re cheating.
Spiced Amaretto Pears
- 4 medium sized, ripe pears (firm is best, try Packhams Triumph or Bosc)
- 1 ½ cups water
- 4 tablespoons raw sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half
- 1 star anise
- 100ml Amaretto almond liqueur
In a medium saucepan, combine the water, sugar, vanilla bean and star anise. Heat gently until the sugar is dissolved.
Meanwhile, peel the pears, leaving the stems in tact.
Once the sugar is dissolved, lower the pears into the saucepan, cover and gently bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 – 30 minutes until the pears are soft but still hold their shape – be careful not to bring the liquid to a boil.
Once cooked, carefully drop the pears into a sterilised jar, and pour over the Amaretto liqueur. Top with as much poaching syrup as required to ensure all of the fruit is submerged before sealing the jar.
Allow to soak for 2-3 days in the refrigerator before use, the pears will keep chilled for up to 2 weeks.