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January 27, 2006

Sugar High Friday #15: Im-peared


We first got a pear drunk a few months ago.  Poached it in lots of marsala, red wine, cinnamon and vanilla, let it soak up all the goodness, and delighted in the fragrance that perfumed our apartment and the richly coloured tender fruit that emerged.  We'd have it with ice cream, creme fraiche, creme fraiche flavoured with Calvados, mascarpone -- you get the picture.  Gorgeous, but always a little on the rich side. 

So when we saw the call for Sugar Low Friday, I thought maybe I'd shake up the poached pear a little.  Heck, we could all do with more fruit, it's fat and processed sugar free, and red wine is good for you, right?  But how to add texture to the dish without resorting to the beautiful wiles of creme fraiche?

Enter phyllo.  Something crispy and flaky, but still very simple.  I decided to prepare pear turnovers, folding my spicy sweet pears into a golden crisp triangle of phyllo dough, which is low-fat with lots of crunch.

They turned out well, and my wife and I ate them with a little bit of the poaching liquid reduced into an intensely aromatic sauce.  The dough picked up the flavour of the scant spoonful of butter, which mingled with the sweet fruit and the crunch of the crust.

Who needs Calvados creme fraiche after all?    Mind you, it wouldn't hurt...


Spiced Vanilla and Marsala Poached Pears

250 ml marsala
250 ml red wine
250 ml water
100 ml honey
1 vanilla bean, split
4 cm x 8 cm strip lemon peel
1 15 cm stick cinnamon
6 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
6 whole cloves, lightly crushed

4 bosc pears, peeled, stems intact

In a sauce pan big enough to lay pears on their side, combine all ingredients except pears, and bring to a boil.

Add pears and simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes, or until pears are tender.  If pears are not covered, turn half way through.

Refrigerate pears and liquid in a resealable bag until ready to serve.

Pears and sauce may be reheated.  Serve pears cored, with any of the following accompaniments: poaching liquid, creme fraiche, ice cream, mascarpone, or anything else that strikes your fancy.

Or do this:

Poached Pear Turnovers

2 poached pears, sliced in 1/2 cm - 1 cm thick slices
4 sheets 33 cm x 43 cm (approx. 13 in x 17 in) phyllo dough, defrosted as per package instructions
40 grams (approx. 3 tbsp) butter, melted

Preheat oven to 375F.

Keep unused sheets of phyllo between moistened kitchen towels while working.  They dry out very quickly.

Take one sheet, and divide it widthwise into three equal sections. Take one section, and brush it with butter.   Cover the first section with another section, and brush again with butter.  Repeat with the final section.  Spoon one quarter of the pears at one end of the dough, then fold a corner of the dough over the pears so it forms a triangle.  Continue folding, maintaining the triangular shape (imagine folding a flag).

Brush the turnovers with a little butter and place in pre-heated oven.  Cook for approximately 20 minutes, until dough is golden and fruit is heated through.

Serve with remaining poaching liquid as a dipping sauce, if desired.

Makes 4 turnovers.

Looking for other delicious ways to serve poached pears?  Try here.



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My congratulations! You and your wife are clearly very talented chefs. That looks delicious and I for one would not miss the sugar or cream at all! (Or chocolate for that matter ... I like to serve a warm bittersweet chocolate sauce with poached pears.)

My compliments to the chefs!


Great post. I would offer you this wonderful variation for poaching pears: Instead of water, poach your pears in Earl Grey Tea. You make the sweet tea first, then poach the pears in it. It imparts great flavor. There are a number of recipes for tea poached pears out there, I used this one from Epicurious

What I think made mine taste so delicious was that I used these Earl Grey tea infusion bags that my husband got as a holiday gift from one of his students: (I would never actually spend the money on these myself...)


Gorgeous poached pears -- and I especially love the idea of the crispy phyllo turnovers!


I love pears, I love 'em poached, i love cardamom, this sounds great!

thanks for joining in!


Bea at La Tartine Gourmande

Lovely photo. Elegant pear! Plus cardamom! Miam! Just made a lovely creme anglaise with it! It is a theme!!! ;-) Beautiful post!


Oh wow that looks great! I havent had a poached pear in a long time. I think I need to go shopping.


Wow, thanks for all the compliments and recommendations everyone. I don't really know where to start.

Ivonne, poaching pears is actually a pretty easy thing to do. If you can simmer, you can poach.

TBTAM, my wife and I love Earl Grey tea. I don't know if you saw, but we tried to use it for macaroons in a recent post. Come the summer, I also intend to start making my awfully tasty Earl Grey ice cream. In the meantime, I think we'll have to give tea poached pears a try.

Julie, thank you for the taking the time to stop by. It was a lot of fun making them.

Sam, as a fellow cardamom lover, I applaud your sentiment.

Bea, love the idea of poached pears with creme anglaise. Actually, I love the idea of anything with creme anglaise. I'm also toying with the idea of trying poached pears with sabayon.

Christine, I hope you find the time to shop and make these pears. They're really, really good.

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