Poached pear is one of those desserts that looks elegant and sophisticated but is incredibly easy to make. The key is to select the correct pear – I prefer Conference. Texture is important too; it needs to be firm but with slight give when you squeeze it. If the pear is too soft it will turn to mush, whereas if it’s too hard it will take forever to cook and will never develop that subtle sweet flavour we’re looking for.

I’ve played around with the poaching liquid in the past. Classic recipes tend to use wine; either red wine which takes on a mulled quality which is a perfect winter dessert, or white wine perhaps infused with citrus or even strands of saffron to give it a gorgeous gold hue. A while ago I came across a recipe which used cider; as I’m based in France a good Breton Cidre seemed to be the perfect poaching liquid. I bought a sweet cider or cidre doux as it’s called here. As it was already a sweet cider I didn’t add much more sugar but I did add a cinnamon stick, vanilla bean paste, cloves, a bay leaf and a sprig of thyme. Thyme might seem like a strange addition but I’m now completely hooked on adding herbs to desserts; get the combination right and it elevates your dish to different level. I poached the pears until they were soft but still firm enough to have bite. I removed the pears but carried on cooking the liquid to reduce it to a syrup consistency.

Processing...