“Gingerbread” Poached Pears

Fruit cooked with just a little sweetener makes an excellent dessert, and we really enjoyed these. Having said that, they would be even better with custard, whipped cream, pudding, or ice cream. There isn’t as much sugar in the poaching liquid as is usual in recipes for poached fruit, so although I boiled it down to thicken it a bit, it did not get particularly syrupy. I can see these sliced over sponge cake to sop up the juices, and topped with cream and custard as a kind of trifle. We just slurped them up though, and were perfectly happy.
4 servings40 minutes – 20 minutes prep time

Gingerbread Poached Pears
3 tablespoons honey1 tablespoon molasses2″ stick of cinnamon OR 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon1/2 teaspoon ground ginger1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg4 whole cloves OR 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves  a pinch of salt4 quarter-sized slices of fresh ginger
1 1/3 cups water OR apple cider or juice4 large ripe but firm Bosc or Bartlett pears2 tablespoons rum OR sherry, OPTIONAL
Measure the honey and molasses into a pot which will hold the pears snugly, but which can be covered firmly as they cook. Mix in the spices and salt. Wash and slice the ginger, and add it, and slowly stir in the water or juice until the honey and molasses are mostly dissolved. Put a rack or something to keep the pears off the bottom of the pan into it; I used a trio of canning jar rims which worked fine. 
Peel the pears, and core them as much as possible from the bottom, leaving them whole. 

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Bring the poaching liquid to a boil. Arrange the prepared pears onto the rack, which is there to keep them from sticking to the bottom and scorching. Cover the pot and cook the pears – they will not be covered by the liquid and will mostly steam – for 12 to 20 minutes, until just tender. Exact time will depend on the size and the ripeness of the pears. 
When the pears are done, remove them to a serving dish or storage container. Strain the cooking liquid, pressing to extract all the liquid, and discard the solids, including the rack (into the sink for washing, presumably). Return the liquid to the pot and boil it until reduced by one-third. Pour it over the pears and chill them until serving time. 
Last year at this time I made Brussels Sprouts Hash.

* Originally published here