14 January 2009

Healthy Desserts Week: Poached Pears

I think most of us are trying to make lighter food after the holidays but if you've anything like me, it's really hard to give up having dessert after having treats every day during the holidays. One of my mini-resolutions (I think the whole resolution thing is sort of silly but at the same point the new year does seem like a good time for some re-assessment), well, back to the point. One of my mini-resolutions is to make more healthy and fruit based desserts.

For me, dessert has always meant something sweet, quite possibly creamy and most likely involving chocolate. I love cookies, candies, ice cream and everything else like that. I also know that denying myself dessert in an attempt to 'eat more healthily' will cause near instant demoralization coupled with a constant desire to eat whatever sweets I see, no matter how processed they might be. So, I have decided to try to expand my definition of dessert to things made mostly of fruit and less sweet things in general. Not that there isn't a place for chocolate (there will always be a place for chocolate) but perhaps in more moderate quantities.

So, for the rest of this week, I will be bringing you healthier desserts that I've made recently, starting with these white wine poached pears.

These pears are so easy and elegant I can't believe I've never made them before. This was also the first time I've had pear and chocolate together and I was sort of shocked at how well it works. Of course, you don't have to do the chocolate and could just serve the pears but since this dessert includes a whole serving of fruit and only a little bit of added sugar, the chocolate is totally worth the extra calories.

These pears would be perfect after a richer dinner and would also be a great dessert if you need something gluten free. Plus, you can poach the pears ahead of time so there's almost no prep once your guests arrive.

Wine Poached Pairs with Chocolate
Serves 2, easily multiplied to serve more

2 pears, ripe but still a bit firm (I used Anjou)
1 C. (250ml) sweet white wine
1-2 C. water (250-500ml)
1/4 C. sugar (25g)
juice of 1/2 a lemon
4 snack size dark chocolate bars (20g)
sliver of butter

- Peel the pear and slice off just enough of the bottom so the pears can sit upright without being wobbly.

- Select a small pot that will just hold the pears (you may want to try a few out before you peel so you don't get them dirty). Add the wine, sugar and 1 C of the water and bring to a boil. Add the lemon juice and the pears. Add additional water if you need it to either cover the pears (if they are upright) or to allow the pears to roll around a bit (if they are on their sides)

- Simmer for 15 - 20 minutes or until the pears are tender. Carefully fish the pears out of the poaching liquid (a wire spider or silicon oven mitt works best) and set down to cool for a few minutes. [Stop at this point if you are making the recipe ahead of time. Wrap and refrigerate the pears and reserve 1T of the poaching liquid for later]

- Melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave. Add the butter and 1 t. of poaching liquid and stir until a smooth sauce is formed. (Tip- if you add too much liquid the chocolate sauce will break and turn weirdly clumpy, just stir in another sliver of butter and stir and that should fix it).

- To serve- pool a little bit of chocolate on each plate and set the pear on top.


Vera said...

Lovely dessert, Jen!

Sue said...

That's a good idea to use tiny chocolate bars. And I like the idea of adding a bit of poaching liquid. Yum.

PS You know what's also good with poached pears? You hollow out the middle and put a mixture of raisins, nuts and honey inside. YUM! And it makes the poaching liquid really good too. And red wine is fine to use.

Jen said...

Thanks Vera-

Sue- that sounds really good but how does the filling stay in the pears while you are poaching them?