Poached Pears with Cardamom Lemon Syrup

There’s nothing like a juicy, succulent pear to put a smile on my face. Unless it’s a crispy, crunchy pear covered in blue cheese. Oh, or a dense, sweet Pear Tart Tatin. Or maybe even a thick pear preserve stockpiled for the winter.

Ok, so when it comes to pears, I have more then a little trouble making up my mind, especially this time of year when they are everywhere and in every shape and form. Bartlett, Bosc, Anjou, Asian, Seckel, take your pick.

While the above cooking suggestions are all great ideas, also consider poaching. It’s a quick, easy, mostly painless way to create a sophisticated and divine dessert. Be sure to buy firm Anjou or Bosc pears to that they do no disintegrate during cooking. Then add the flavors you like, from lemon to cardamom and clove to ginger. It’s that easy. Plus, if you don’t feel like sacrificing an expensive Sauternes or Moscato to the poaching gods, quickly create your own simple syrup and poach away.

Try this recipe for a start.

Poached Pears with Cardamom Lemon Syrup  (serves 4)

4 firm Bosc or Anjou pears, pealed and with the stem left intact
5 cups water
2 cups sugar
5 strips lemon rind
2″ piece of ginger, cut in 4 strips
5 cardamom pods, crushed
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 stick cinnamon
4 tbsp Crème fraiche

In a deep saucepan bring the water, sugar, lemon, ginger and spices to a boil. Turn the heat down to simmer and place the pears in the liquid. Simmer for 20 minutes, turning frequently. The pears should be tender, but not mushy. Remove the pears and set aside, standing upright. Bring the liquid back to a boil and allow to cook down. Boil until the syrup is thick and slightly golden, but not brown. There should be about 1.5 cups of syrup remaining. Remove the solids by pouring the poaching liquid through a sieve into a heat proof container. Place in the refrigerator until cool, about 1 hour.

When ready to serve set each pear upright on a small plate. Drizzle each with 1 tbsp syrup and 1 tbsp soft, whipped crème fraiche