These spiced, poached pears are cooked in honey water, and flavoured with cardamom, cloves, and lemon. They’re perfect for an elegant dessert on their own, or served with ice cream!
Poached pears are the grown-up version of the canned pears that I loved so much when I was little. I experimented with poaching some pears last autumn, and discovered how wonderfully versatile this cooking method could be. If you’re not familiar with poaching, you should add it to your repertoire! It makes an elegantly understated dessert on its own, or can be served alongside ice cream or pound cake.
Poached fruit is simply any kind of fruit softened and cooked in a sweet, flavoured liquid. There are endless combinations to discover! You can poach pears, peaches, apples, plums. For the sweetener, white sugar will do, or introduce a new flavour with honey or dark brown sugar. Spice the liquid with any palette of vanilla bean, cinnamon sticks, whole spices, peppercorns, citrus, ginger, or fresh herbs. If you like, you can also add a little flare by splashing in a tablespoon or two of sherry, bourbon, or flavoured liqueur before serving.
I followed my whimsy on this one, and discovered the joys of cardamom. I’m sure there are many things cardamom would play well with, but this combination of lemon, honey, and cloves is divine.
Before I give the recipe, here are a few things you should know about poaching fruit:
3 Things You Should Know About Poaching Fruit
1. You must use fruit that is still firm–you don’t want it to turn to mush in your cooking liquid!
2. Remove the peels from pears and apples so that the liquid can permeate the fruit. For fruits with thinner peels, such as peaches and plums, leave them on.
3. You want the fruit to cook evenly, so while the liquid boils be sure to occasionally turn the fruit so that all sides cook.
Ready to try your hand at poached pears? Here you go…
Oh, and be prepared for your home to smell heavenly.
Clove and Cardamom Poached Pears
These spiced, poached pears are cooked in honey water, and flavoured with cardamom, cloves, and lemon. They're perfect for an elegant dessert on their own, or served with ice cream or pound cake!
- 4 firm pears peeled and cut in half, with cores removed
- 5 cups water
- 3/4 cup honey
- 1 lemon cut in half
- 1/2 Tbsp cardamom pods
- 1/2 Tbsp whole cloves
Heat water in a saucepan over medium-high heat; stir in honey to dissolve.
Crush the cardamom pods with a mortar and pestle or a heavy glass jar. Add cardamom pods and seeds, cloves, lemon, and pears to the honey water.
When the liquid begins to boil, turn down to medium, cover, and let cook at a low boil for 20 minutes, until the pears are tender (but not mushy!). During cooking, gently stir the pears occasionally so that they will cook evenly.
Remove pears to a separate bowl. Return the poaching liquid to a full boil and let boil for 20 minutes until the liquid is reduced by half.
Pour liquid over pears, let cool slightly, and serve. If you aren’t eating them til later, chill in the refrigerator until serving time. Eat cold, or pour the liquid and pears into a saucepan to reheat gently.
If you want to serve pears whole, use 6 cups water instead of 5 so that the liquid will cover the fruit when cooking. Increase cooking time to 35 minutes.