Enjoy the best that autumn has to offer with this deliciously simple recipe for spiced poached pears topped with salted caramel nuts and chocolate sauce.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once said that ‘there are only 10 minutes in the life of a pear when it is perfect to eat’. There’s no doubt that certain varieties seem to go from rock hard to mush in a matter of moments, so for this blog I decided to cook them.
Poaching pears softens their flesh to perfection and enhances their delicate flavour. But you do need to choose a suitable pear to cook with. Firmer varieties like Bosc, Anjou and French butter pears are all good at keeping their shape in the poaching pan. When in season, supermarkets are stocked with a wide variety to choose from, and I was amazed to discover that my local Waitrose had no less than 10 on offer. It did make the selection process slightly harder, but I was very happy with my Beurre Hardy pears from a Kent grower.
Delicious and simple!
This recipe is ridiculously easy to prepare and really makes the most of this delicious autumnal classic.
First peel the pears, place them into a large pot and cover with boiling water. Add the cinnamon sticks, star anise, ground cinnamon, honey and orange rind to the pot, and simmer the pears for 1-2 hours, at which point they will be beautifully soft and fragrant. For extra flavour, I left mine to infuse in the amber syrup overnight.
For the chocolate sauce, pour the double cream into a small pan and heat gently but be careful not to boil the cream. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the chocolate pieces until fully melted.
Now for the salted caramel nuts. I chose walnuts as they’re the perfect partner for pears, but you could of course try other nuts such as hazelnuts or pecans. Cook the nuts, butter and sugar in a small frying pan on a medium heat. Stir the ingredients continuously, especially when the sugar starts to melt, to prevent it burning. After about 5 minutes all the sugar will have melted and the nuts will be nicely coated with the glossy sugar. Transfer immediately onto a piece of baking parchment and sprinkle with the sea salt. Leave the nuts to cool and the coating will harden ready for eating. It’s a good idea to cook a few more nuts than you think you’ll need. Trust me, they are so moreish that you’ll be snacking on them while you do the washing up! Bagged up with a pretty ribbon, these nuts would also make a great little gift.
Serve the poached pears with the caramelised nuts and a generous pouring of chocolate sauce. And enjoy! It really is so simple and a real winter warmer.
Shop Thornback & Peel’s new Pear collection.
Words, Styling and Images by Emma Whicheloe.