Poached Pears with Cream

Poached seasonal fruit and a bowl of homemade whipped cream is a simple stunner of a dessert. It doesn’t require a ton of fuss or prep; I sometimes make the poached pears and the whipped cream up to a day ahead of time. (Give the whipped cream a few good beats with a whisk if you need to bring it back to soft peaks.) The variations are endlessly versatile — Cider poached pears! Five-spice whipped cream! — though I love to make this recipe as is. It’s a subtle nod to the beauty of paring it all back.

Serves 4.

Ingredients

For the poached pears

  • 4 ripe Bosc pears, peeled and halved, cores removed
  • 4 cups water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 large or 2 small cinnamon sticks

For the whipped cream

  • 1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or runny honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Steps

Step 1

Combine water, sugar, bay leaf and cinnamon stick in a large saucepan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Add pears and cover saucepan. Gently simmer pears until fork-tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool in poaching liquid.

Step 2

Meanwhile, add cream, syrup (or honey), vanilla and salt to a blender. Blend on high at 10-second intervals, until the cream is whipped into medium-soft peaks. (Test this by dipping a spoon into the whipped cream and holding it upright; the whipped cream should be firm enough to stay on the spoon, and the peak of the whipped cream should droop ever so slightly to one side.) Alternatively, whip the cream by hand with a whisk or with an electric beater in a large metal bowl. Serve with poached pears. Store leftover whipped cream in a tightly sealed container for up to three days in the fridge. (Add a spoonful to an afternoon cup of coffee.)

photo by H.B. Wilcox Photography.