Poached Pears Ambrosia

by Emily Kemme

Pears are the unruly children of the fruit world.  I buy them, hard as rocks, gently remove their stickers and display in a bowl, alongside grapefruits, whom have much better behavior.  Why?  Because of pears’ unpredictability.  One minute I could throw them through a glass window, and in the next, they’d just splatter all over it.  It’s that fast.

I’ve found a good use for pears; serve them poached for dessert.  As I prepared this dish, what truly amazed me was how secretive they really are:  I was certain that the bosc pears were as hard as the moon’s surface, until I cored them for this recipe.  That tough exterior was hiding a silky-smooth, luscious interior loaded with juice.  Pears remind me of a few people I know.

Anyway, they’re a perfect, healthy dessert, and serve up quite the presentation.

Star anise, a chinese fruit, imparts a mild licorice flavor to dishes. Paired with sweet honey, the effect is ambrosial.

Poached Pears Ambrosia

1 cup honey

1 cup chardonnay

5 whole star anise

3 T lemon juice

pinch of sea salt

6 medium firm but ripe (ha!) bosc pears, peeled and cored

1/2 cup crème fraîche

Combine 8 cups water, honey, wine, star anise, lemon juice and salt in large sauce pot.  Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.  With slotted spoon, gently lower pears into liquid, one at a time.  Reduce heat and simmer until tender, about 15-20 minutes, depending on ripeness.  Using slotted spoon, remove pears to medium bowl.  Chill until ready to serve.

Ladle 2 1/2 cups poaching liquid into small saucepan.  Add star anise.  Boil mixture until reduced to one cup syrup, about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Strain syrup and chill separately from pears.

To serve:  spoon sauce on each of 6 plates.  Place pear and add one spoonful crème fraîche alongside.

Note:  Pears and syrup can be made one day ahead.

This dessert is so light that adding a bit of creme fraiche along side it barely boosts this into the “bad” category.

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