Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ginger & Cardamom Poached Pears

ginger poached pears
My dear vegan and milk-allergic readers, I have not forgotten you.

This has to be one of the most popular desserts I've made, when it comes to the reactions of the people who eat the food I cook. I didn't expect that. I think I'm a pretty good cake baker, but when I tried this recipe for the first time at Rosh Hashanah dinner, I got more mmmmms and wows and ohmyg0ds with this deceptively simple fruit dessert than with the honey cakes I served it with. I made it again for Shabbat dinner on Friday and it was every bit as lovely as before. It would be a wonderful gluten-free vegan dessert option for Thanksgiving.

Easy but sophisticated is what I was going for. Peeling fruit does not equal "easy" in my book, so I didn't bother. If you'd like to try peeling the pears before halving them, go for it! This recipe works best with pears that are just ripe enough to have some softness while being firm enough to be handled without their skin getting easily damaged. How long you cook the pears will depend on how ripe they were to begin with - Five minutes on each side is plenty for a ripe piece of fruit. As for sugar, any kind should work. I have used raw sugar both times I've prepared this.

I sure wish these photos were better. The bits of stuff on top of the pears is ginger pieces, which I like to serve with the pear though they can be removed if you prefer. These pictures were taken before the sauce finished reducing into the dark, thick syrup that is drizzled on top of the pears - So the thin sauce you see on the pears is just the pre-reduction version of it, which I spooned on top of them before taking pictures. Imagine a thicker, darker and more syrupy sauce that can be truly drizzled across each pear. This recipe inevitably makes extra of the reduced ginger-cardamom syrup. The leftover syrup is divine, with its rich and slightly spicy flavor and sweet pieces of nearly candied ginger floating in it. It would be wonderful on pancakes or vanilla ice cream, so I like to save it in a little tupperware container for later enjoyment.

ginger poached pears


[ Vegan / Pareve / Soy-Free / Dairy-Free / Gluten-Free ]

2" piece of ginger root, peeled
1/2 tsp cardamom powder
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp cloves (powdered)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2" piece of lemon zest
5 semi-ripe Bartlett or Anjou pears, washed and dried

Slice ginger root into very thin slices. Cut slices into narrow matchsticks. Bring water, sugar, spices, lemon zest, lemon juice and fresh ginger to a boil in a wide, heavy saucepan. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes.

While the liquid is simmering, slice pears in half lengthwise and use a teaspoon to scoop the seeds out of each half. Place the pears cut-side down in the sauce pan and simmer for 5 minutes, then flip over and simmer for another 5 minutes. Baste occasionally with a spoon while cooking. Using a slotted spatula, carefully lift each piece of pear out of the liquid and place on a serving platter or individual plates.

Remove the lemon zest and cinnamon sticks from the liquid (you can remove the ginger pieces, too, if you like, but I think they're wonderful left in). Bring the liquid back up to a rolling boil, and boil until it thickens into a syrup. Drizzle 1 Tbsp of the syrup across each half of pear just before serving.

Serve warm or at room temperature.


Anonymous said...

Yum. Just the thing to do with the CSA pears sitting in my fridge this week. . . .

Anonymous said...

I tried making this recipe this evening. We liked it!

Here are my notes about what I'd do differently next time:

1) More cardamom! (Cardamom is my favorite spice in the entire universe.)

2) I boiled the sauce for way too long, waiting for it to thicken, not realizing that as long as it was hot it would be extremely liquidy. When I finally got tired of boiling and turned off the heat, the sauce cooked into thick goo that had to be re-heated in order to be pourable. So if I cook this again, I'd do a lot less boiling while waiting for the syrup to thicken.

3) I suspect that this would be fabulous with maple syrup substituted for some or all of the sugar.

Anonymous said...

Oops, I forgot to sign that. My name is Valerie (m.), from the Vegetarian Gluten-Free e-mail list.