Is it too early to start talking about Valentine’s Day? Probably yes, right? Probably 11:59 pm on February 13th is too early for most people. I actually kind of enjoy Valentine’s Day. I know, SACRILEGE AGAINST CYNICALKIND!! But I really dig candy, especially Whitman’s Samplers, and I like it when people love each other, so V-Day doesn’t bother me all that much.
Here’s a recipe I think would be awesome for a Valentine’s Day dessert. It’s pretty easy and not terribly hands-on, so you can maximize your time with your love (or your mom or your dog or your BFF or whoever is lucky enough to be hanging with your bad self on 2/14). Champagne-Poached Pears are also relatively healthy on the strata of desserts, so not much guilt the morning after, unless you drink the champagne instead of cooking with it. And if you did finish off a bottle or two, I would NOT judge you at all (ahem, flashback of my 21st birthday party).
Don’t worry about the quality of the champagne you use. I used my old bargain-basement-college-standby André ($8.99, girls) and it worked wonderfully. Bosch pears (the ones with the brown skin) are best for poaching, but I bet other varieties would work, too.
Champagne-Poached Pears in Caramel Sauce
makes 4 servings (using 2 pears)
total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
total hands on time: 5-10 minutes for pears, 5 minutes for sauce
What you’ll need:
2 pears, peeled, halved and cored
6 cups of champagne (most of a bottle)
2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
for caramel sauce:
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup milk or heavy cream
What you’ll do:
1. Peel and halve pears, taking out the core using a paring knife or a melon baller as this Santa-looking dude did.
2. Combine champagne, water, sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan, then bring to simmer. Put in the four pear halves.
3. Put a small plate or piece of parchment paper on top of the pears to keep them submerged.
4. Simmer for 15-30 minutes, depending on the size of the pears. Mine were big, so I needed the full 30. Don’t let the liquid boil, just keep it at a steady simmer.
5. Once they’re finished cooking (they will be softer and more translucent), let the pears chill out in the poaching liquid for a while longer, about another 20-30 minutes,until they’re just warm.
6. While the pears are cooling, make the caramel sauce.
7. Melt butter and brown sugar together in a small saucepan. Once the mixture is boiling, turn down the heat but let it bubble for twoish minutes. The pictures I took of this part in the process didn’t turn out so well, so just trust me on this; keep stirring so it doesn’t congeal or burn. Stir in the milk, remove from heat and stir until completely mixed. The sauce will be thin, but lovely.
8.Drizzle caramel sauce over poached pears and voila!
Keep in mind that you can poach the pears whole or halved. I like the look of the halves so that’s what I went with. This recipe is totally gluten-free and can be easily modified to be vegan; just use almond milk when making the sauce. That’s actually what I used above and it turned out DEELISH. Champagne-Poached Pears are such a simple, classy dessert, perfect to serve to anyone you love. Including yourself.