Poached Pears with Caramel Sauce


Writer and photographer Monica Longenbaker

Impress your loved ones this Valentine’s Day with this easy, yet elegant dessert. Pears are slowly poached and infused with the flavors of white wine and cinnamon until incredibly soft and sweet. Once poached, the pears can be sliced and cored or left whole for a more dramatic presentation. Serve with ice cream and warm caramel sauce for the perfect finish to a romantic dinner.

Poached Pears with Caramel Sauce
Yield: 4 servings

3 cups fruity white wine (such as chardonnay or pinot grigio)
3 cups water
1½ cups granulated sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 piece of ginger, peeled and sliced
vanilla bean pod, sliced in half (optional)
4 firm, medium pears (such as Bosc or Anjou), peeled with the stem intact
caramel sauce (recipe below), warm
vanilla bean ice cream

In a medium saucepan, combine the white wine, water, sugar, cinnamon sticks, ginger and vanilla bean (if using). Bring to a simmer over medium heat.

Carefully place the peeled pears into the liquid. Cover the pears with a plate or a lid slightly smaller than the pot to keep the entire pears submerged. Simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the pears are knife tender.

Gently remove the pears from the poaching liquid and set aside to cool to room temperature. (Note: If serving the next day, store the pears submerged in the poaching liquid in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving).

To serve, place the pears onto a serving plate. Drizzle the warm caramel sauce over the top and serve with vanilla bean ice cream.

Caramel Sauce

1 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
½ cup heavy cream, warm
2 tablespoons butter
pinch of salt

Combine the sugar and water in a medium saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Do not stir! If necessary, gently swirl the pan to ensure all the sugar has dissolved.

Allow the sugar to boil for 10-20 minutes, or until it begins to turn color. Be careful not to let it burn. Once it becomes a deep golden color, whisk in the warmed heavy cream. For a softer caramel, add butter, as well. (Note: The sugar mixture will sputter a bit when liquid is added). Continue to simmer for 1-2 more minutes, whisking frequently until completely smooth.

Remove the pot from the heat and transfer to a heat-proof dish for further use.

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