Updated: Mar 9, 2021
From Ali: This naturally gluten-free dessert was created for a client I cooked for in NYC. I wanted to make a dessert that my client could have on her wellness-focused menu free of any flour, dairy, or refined sugars.
When I made the poached pears this week so I could photograph the steps for this blog, I craved more of a sweet-sour contrast and so added fresh lemon juice to the apple-cider at the end of the cooking process, and let that reduce to a thick, tart glaze. The glaze is killer and you will wish you had a whole jar of it in the fridge to put on anything you can think of--even on roasted sweet potatoes at the end of their roasting! Roasted acorn squash! Baked apples! Toast!
This is the most simple version: Just the poached pears in their cider glaze with fresh raspberries on top. I made them this way so my busy client could just go to her fridge and take out a portion to have with coconut yogurt or non-dairy ice cream or just plain.
This is how I plated the pears the other day--one pear with some of the apple-lemon glaze brushed on, on top of the raspberry sauce with some vegan coconut-milk yogurt, fresh organic raspberries and chopped pecans. You could also use chopped walnuts or almonds, and both would be great.
Or if you prefer no nuts at all, just leave them ou! This can also be a breakfast and you could put some cooked oatmeal under all these elements!
1 quart organic apple cider, fresh if you can get it.
*Only get plain apple cider with nothing added.
If not available, then get organic apple juice. Make
sure it is just plain apple juice, nothing added -without
any added spices in the juice!
3 cinnamon sticks
4 organic lemons (get them as soft as you can since
those will be juicier)
4 organic Bosc pears (Bosc pears are the only type
that won't break down or get mushy and are fabulous
al dente which is what they will end up being in this dish.)
4 containers of fresh organic raspberries (think 1 container per pear)
1 tablespoon or less of maple syrup
Optional: Coconut-milk yogurt for garnish, and chopped pecans,
or chopped walnuts or almonds.
So here are Bosc pears. I made the mistake of going to a big-box store and buying some non-organic Bosc pears, non-organic raspberries, and made the entire dish but did not like how they came out--so I started all over with organic pears and organic raspberries and made the entire dish all over again. The difference was phenomenal. These pears were tart, crisp, had hints of vanilla and I just can't get enough of these amazing Bosc pears. I hope you can find some wherever you are!
Peel your pears. Keep the stems on since they will provide a good handle when you need to move or lift the pears or roll them in their glaze or if you want show off how you can eat a poached pear by holding the stem!
Start your apple cider or apple juice simmering in a stainless skillet with high sides, if you have one, or you can use a stainless or ceramic soup pot. Just don't use a non-stick pan since you want a glaze to form and it will form better in a stainless pan. Add 2-3 cinnamon sticks, and bring to a low boil. Simmer for a few minutes while you peel your pears.
Add the pears to the simmering apple cider (or juice) with the cinnamon sticks. Turn several times. I used 2 forks but you could use tongs if you have them. I covered the pan with its lid and took off the lid at the end so the liquid would start to thicken. Poaching time is approximately 10 minutes, give or take, depending on the size of the pears. You can stick a fork in to the pears and they should still be a bit al dente when they are properly cooked. That is what you want! As you turn them with the forks, they will not only cook more evenly but will get "glazed" on all sides.
When the poaching liquid starts to thicken up but your pears aren't quite done, add a little more cider or juice, turn the pears again, and start prepping some lemon juice to add at the end.
Squeeze juice of 2-3 large or 3-4 small lemons and add a little more cider if glaze gets too thick again. Turn the pears on last time, then turn off the heat and let them hang out in that gorgeous glaze while you make a ridiculously simple raspberry sauce.
Rinse the raspberries in your colander. Shake out the extra water. Add them to your blender or food processor with about 2-3 teaspoons maple syrup (or less, if the raspberries are super sweet) and a couple of teaspoons of the fresh lemon juice. This was inspired by Angelica's Home Kitchen cookbook as the sauce for one of my favorite desserts--their vegan lemon tart!
Ok we're almost there! Pour the blended raspberries into a fine-mesh colander sitting over a bowl.
Smush that raspberry puree with a spatula through the colander to remove the seeds. Look at that gorgeous color! Taste it and if it still is too tart, then add a little more maple syrup. If too sweet, then add some fresh lemon juice. Now you have your sauce so here are a few options..... (And BTW the sauce is certainly not required for the recipe, but that hot pink looked so pretty on a grey February day that could not help but make it and put it on the plate).
Whether you use a bowl or a plate, begin by putting some of the sauce down first and place the pear on top.
The sauce is kind of hidden here, but I put the coconut yogurt on top of the sauce then garnished with a hefty portion of the organic fresh raspberries.
I switched to a plate here because it worked better to show the sauce and the yogurt and the nuts. Real life story: two nights ago when I didn't have time to make dinner and I was starved and as usual, got home from work late, I heated the whole thing up in a pan and added more yogurt and more nuts and it was a crazy good dinner! The upside to working on a food blog is that you have great food in the fridge left over and can have it for a meal.
If you have kids who like fun food, this is a way to make a wildly pink dessert that is a crazy bright color---just cut the pear into pieces so they are not having to navigate
their way around a whole pear.
Whichever version you go with, whether it is the pears just with the bright pink sauce
or with the yogurt, sauce, and nuts, or just the raspberries poured over the pears to keep in the fridge for a quickly warmed dessert, you will have a vegan, gluten-free, grain-free
dessert base to which you can add and build!