Whilst I love using fresh cranberries in my baking, making muffins, breads and cakes etc., I decided that I wanted to ring the changes a little and use them in a dessert instead. I also wanted a dessert that was lighter than the often rich and stodgy desserts regularly eaten over the festive season. These Cranberry Poached Pears fit the bill perfectly and along with tasting delicious were also incredibly simple to make.
Cranberries can be quite sour so I sweetened them with a little sugar and simmered them to make a syrup into which I place some peeled and cored pears. I gently poached the pears for twenty minutes until just cooked before removing them from the poaching liquid which I then strained and reduced to thicken slightly. Really the only work involved was peeling the pears and checking on the poaching pears occasionally.
200g fresh (or frozen) cranberries
125g caster sugar
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
The peel and juice of 1 orange
700ml cold water
6 slightly under-ripe pears peeled and cored but try to leave the stalks intact
- Put all the ingredients, except the pears in a medium-sized deep saucepan and place over a moderate heat. Slowly bring up to simmering point and allow to bubble gently , stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved and the cranberries have started to pop and soften.
- Gently place the pears into the cranberry poaching liquid so that they are submerged. If you have enough room place them snugly side-by-side so that just the stalks are pointing up. Poach in the simmering water for 20-30 minutes or until the pears have softened but not too much – they should still have some texture.
- Remove the pears with a slotted spoon and place in a clean bowl. Strain the poaching liquid through a sieve into a clean saucepan and place over a high heat. Discard any solids including the orange peel and spices that collect in the sieve. Allow the poaching liquid to bubble and reduce by half over a high heat and then pour on top of the pears in the bowl.
- Allow to cool to room temperature and then over and refrigerate overnight before serving. The pears are lovely with served with a little lightly whipped double cream or a scoop of vanilla ice-cream