It’s arts-and-crafts time when you wrap fragrant poached pears in dough. It's fun fashioning stems and leaves, and you will create an elegant dessert that is nutritious, low in fat, and celebratory. Create a healthy new holiday tradition this year. Even little ones can get involved with cutting out shapes and brushing on glaze.
The pears are poached in dessert wine and spices. The unfussy dough mixes up quickly. Sweetened with chestnut and mesquite flours, the dough is scented with nutmeg and vanilla, and tenderized with steaming hot sweet potato.
After baking, decorate the plate with reduced poaching syrup, garnish with a dollop of homemade soy crème fraiche, and you are in for a treat!
Plant-based, whole grain, gluten-oil-sugar-salt free.
Prep time 50 minutes Bake time 40 minutes Makes 12-14 pear halves
Very fine strainer
Natural bristle brush to apply glaze
4-4 ½” circular cookie cutter, pot lid, or empty can
Foil-lined parchment paper
For Crème Fraîche
12” by 12” square of muslin
6-7 ripe pears, any variety, washed, cut in half lengthwise, cores and stem removed
Hint! Pears, notoriously, are often rock hard in the shops. They ripen over 3-4 days and then begin to overripen, so plan ahead. Select fruit that are of a similar size and ripeness.
1 ½ cups sweet dessert wine like a tokaji, sherry, madeira, port, or for less sweetness use half sweet vermouth
½ cup water
3 allspice berries
1 stick Ceylon cinnamon
1 vanilla bean
Zest from ½ organic orange
Hint! Most of the alcohol will burn off in the oven, but if you wish to avoid it, substitute with frozen fruit juice concentrate (e.g. apple, pomegranate, grape).
½ cup Italian chestnut flour, plus a bit for dusting the board
½ cup mesquite flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
3 Tablespoons arrowroot
3 Tablespoons golden flaxseed, freshly ground
¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
¼ cup date paste from 1/3 cup pitted dates, any variety
1 cup hot sweet potato pulp, microwaved or baked until very soft
Hint! You can purchase mesquite and chestnut flours online and in specialty shops. Italian chestnuts are harvested and milled in early autumn and hit the market soon thereafter. Buy your chestnut flour in October or November from this year’s harvest. Keep them both fresh and sweet by storing the flours in a zip-lock bag in the freezer.
Hint! This recipe will likely make more dough than you need to encase the pears. If so, you can use it to make my Blueberry Spice Thumbprint Cookies.
½ carton frozen apple juice concentrate, reduced
Poaching liquid, strained and reduced (optional)
2 cups soy yogurt will produce 1 cup of crème fraiche.
Make the Crème Fraîche
Spoon the yogurt into a square of muslin. Gather up the sides and tie with string, Hang the bag over a bowl or over the sink and allow to strain for two hours to thicken. Transfer to a storage container and set aside in the fridge.
Make the Poaching Liquid
Preheat oven to 375°F/190°C
Add the wine(s), and juice (if using instead), and water to a medium pot. Add the cinnamon and allspice.
Split the bean lengthwise with a sharp knife. Using the back of the knife, scrape the bean and add the tiny vanilla seed paste to the poaching liquid. Then toss in the pod casing as well.
Using a paring knife to cut strips of orange zest, thin enough to avoid the bitter pith. Add to the pot.
Bring to a boil and cook for a minute.
Place the pear halves, face side down, in a pyrex or stainless roasting or baking pan. Pour the poaching liquid over the pears, covering the fruit halfway up their sides. Cover tightly with parchment-lined foil. Poach in the oven for 30 minutes. Test for doneness. A knife should pierce the pears easily. Set aside and allow the pears to cool in the liquid. Remove the pears and set aside, covering them to prevent them from drying out.