Everyone thinks of apples for winter baking, pies, crisps, etc. but pears are delightful in desserts where you normally plan on using apples. Here are a few easy, elegant pear desserts you might want to try for your holiday gatherings.
Spiced Wine Poached Pears
2 ripe pears, peeled, stems left intact, cored
2 cups red wine
1/2 cup cane sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise pods
4 cardamom pods
pinch of peppercorns
Optional: Crème fraîche sweetened with maple syrup
- Add the wine, sugar, and whole spices to a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil while stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the pear halves and reduce heat to a simmer.
- Cook pears until tender when pierced with a sharp knife, about 15-20 minutes. Carefully remove pears to a plate with a slotted spoon.
- Return wine mixture to a boil. Cook until the liquid reduces to a syrup and coats a spoon. This will take a little while, about another 20 minutes.
- Serve the pears drizzled with the wine syrup and a dollop of Crème fraîche if desired.
1 1/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
3-4 tablespoons ice cold water
1 egg, beaten
3 ripe pears, halved, cored, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried ginger
1 teaspoon kuzu root starch powder
whipped cream or vanilla ice cream
- Cut butter into 1/2 inch cubes and place in freezer for a few minutes.
- Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a food processor; pulse to mix.
- Add butter to flour mix and pulse a few times, until mixture resembles coarse meal, with pea size pieces of butter. Add ice water 1 tablespoon at a time, pulsing until mixture just begins to clump together. If you pinch some of the dough and it holds together, it’s ready. If the dough doesn’t hold together, add a little more water and pulse again.
- Remove dough and place in a pile on a clean surface. Shape the dough into a smooth 1 inch thick disk. Wrap the disk in plastic wrap or wax paper and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes.
- While dough is chilling, add the kuzu, ginger, and lemon juice to a medium bowl. Stir to break up the clumps until it’s smooth. Add the sugar and pears and toss to coat the pears.
- Heat oven to 425°F. Remove dough disk from fridge and roll out on a floured surface to a 12 inch circle. Place dough circle on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
- Pour pears into the center of the dough, leaving about 2 inches of dough uncovered around the edges. Arrange the pear slices decoratively, if desired. Fold the dough edges over the pears, pleating the dough to make it fold around the pear in a circle. Brush the dough with the beaten egg.
- Bake galette for 45 minutes or until pears are tender and crust is golden. Let cool before cutting. Can be made a day ahead. Serve with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.
Pear Cranberry Bread
3 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/4 cups cane sugar
3/4 cup butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups white spelt flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
3 cups finely chopped, peeled ripe pears
1 cup finely chopped fresh cranberries
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons sugar for sprinkling
- Heat oven to 350°F and grease 2 5 x 9 inch bread pans.
- In a bowl, beat together the eggs, sugar, melted butter and vanilla until smooth.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a separate bowl. Stir flour mixture into the egg mixture just until moistened. Toss pears and cranberries together with lemon juice. Fold the fruit and walnuts into the batter. It will be thick.
- Spoon batter into the prepared loaf pans and smooth out with a metal spatula. If desired, sprinkle the tops of the loaves with sugar. Bake at 350°F for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to a wire rack to cool completely.
Roasted Maple Pears
6 ripe pears, cored, cut into chunks
1/2 cup maple syrup
4 tablespoons butter, melted
juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon arrowroot
½ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons maple syrup
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 9” baking pan with cooking spray.
- Whisk together the lemon juice and arrowroot in a small bowl. Whisk in maple syrup, vanilla, cardamom, cinnamon, and sea salt. Arrange the pears in the prepared pan. Pour maple sauce over the pears. Drizzle melted butter over pears
- Roast for 30 minutes. After first 15 minutes, toss pears with a metal spatula and return to oven. While pears are roasting, whip the cream and maple syrup until fluffy.
- Let pears cool a few minutes and serve with whipped cream.