These poached pears make for a light, delicious, and easy dessert, especially for those on chemo. It allows them to enjoy this wonderful fall fruit when their impaired immunes make snacking on them raw... impossible. In Europe, they are often cooked with wine, but it’s really not necessary for great flavor. A little maple syrup and half a vanilla pod make a heavenly combo that gives the pears a rich, deep taste. Bosc pears are the ideal cooking pear.
In a heavy wide shallow pan with a lid, arrange the pears cut side down in the pan, with the narrow ends pointing towards the middle.
Mix the maple syrup with the water and pour over the pears. Tuck the vanilla pod in between the pears.
Bring the pears to a boil over a medium heat, turn the heat down to low and simmer covered for 20-25 minutes or until the pears are tender, turning them over about half way through. When they are done, turn off the heat and let the pears sit in the covered pan to cool.
When cooled, discard the vanilla pod (see Ann’s Tip), and transfer the pears to a serving dish. Spoon the poaching liquid over them. Serve either chilled or at room temperature. For a special treat, serve with a dollop of Greek yogurt or Mascarpone.
Be sure to use real maple syrup for this and not pancake syrup, and if you can only find vanilla essence or extract, use no more than a ½ teaspoon.
Vanilla pods are expensive, but you can recycle them after cooking. Rinse and dry the used pods and store for a few days in an airtight jar buried in 1 cup of sugar per pod. This will flavor the sugar with vanilla for future use in baking and desserts, or to add a vanilla boost to a cup of coffee.