Monday, 3 March 2014

Champagne poached pears

Do you ever have an unfinished bottle of a champagne lying round that you're not sure what to do with?

No, I didn't think so. I don't know how we managed NOT to finish a bottle of champagne. I really don't. It's very odd. But we did.

I had not idea what to do with it. I mean, it's good champagne, but even good champagne isn't so good the next day. But not bad enough to throw it away. Do you know what I mean? No, probably not, because no one doesn't finish champagne...

So the internet came to the rescue, and I realised that people have (for unknown reasons, still) found half bottles of champagne lying round and they seem to like to put it to good use in the form of champagne poached pears.

Champagne poached pears | Svelte Salivations

I didn't really have a recipe to follow, but I just took inspiration from this, this, this and this.

I don't even know what variety of pears these are. I just found them for cheap (£1 a bag of like 6 or more) at the local market. They weren't too soft and held their shape quite well, which is the type of pears which are ideal.

Peeled whole pears for poaching | Svelte Salivations

I peeled them but left them whole, stems intact, just slicing their bottoms so they could stand upright. Unless you've already prepared your poaching liquid, and are going to poach them right away, it's better to leave them in some water so they don't brown.

My poaching liquid was the rest of the bottle of champagne (about 350mL), and then I topped this small but deep pot with water. I used 1/4 cup sugar, like the recipe from The Year In Food here, but all the others used about 1 cup (for the same amount of liquid) which I would imagine to be very sweet. 

I chose to infuse my syrup with cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean paste, and some clementines, just cut in half and gently squeezed to release some juice and flavour.

Vanilla bean paste, cinnamon and champagne for poaching pears | Svelte Salivations

Once the sugar has dissolved, bring the liquid just to boiling point, and then you can submerge the pears. Keep the liquid barely simmering

Poaching pears with clementines, cinnamon and vanilla | Svelte Salivations

You'll need enough liquid to cover the pears completely, so add some more water if you need. To make sure my pears remained submerged, I snipped a circle of parchment paper to fit the top of the pot and gently stuck it down. I cut a hole to let the steam through too.

Parchment paper to submerge pears while poaching | Svelte Salivations

These took 20 minutes or so, but it really depends on your pears. So just keep an eye on them. When done, it'll be easy to stick a toothpick through them, but they'll still be firm enough to hold their shape.

I made these before dinner and then just left them to cool in the pot, off the heat. When serving them, they were room temperature, and I just heated up the poaching liquid and poured it over to warm them a little.

Champagne poached pears | Svelte Salivations

They were really amazing and so easy to make! It's such an elegant dessert (champagne will do that to everything!) and so versatile too. I loved the spice of the cinnamon and vanilla, and the tartness of the clementines. 

If you like your desserts sweet (which I usually do) you can add more sugar to the poaching liquid, but I found 1/4 cup to be just right, as the pears themselves have a natural sweetness. You can infuse anything you like really, and I'm excited to try some other spices and flavours next time!

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