Poached Pears in Pastry


hese adorable little pears make for a really impressive dinner party dessert and are much easier than you think. They are super light and not too sweet. If you like something a bit sweeter for dessert, feel free to drizzle with a little caramel or chocolate sauce.

Poached pears are endlessly versatile and don’t just have to be wrapped in pastry. If you halved the pear, they’d be delicious served as a savoury cheese pudding with some whipped honeyed goats cheese or on a cheese board with some stilton. You can also wrap half a poached pear in pastry and bake like a tarte tatin. If you’re pushed for time, just poach and serve in a shallow bowl of really creamy vanilla custard.

*I was a little worried the party swirls might ‘melt’ and slip down the pear when baking. They didn’t – hurrah – but to avoid make sure you do the following: Use plenty of egg wash on the pear; keep your pastry fridge cold until ready to use; make sure your oven is hot and to temperature before baking your pears; work quickly and once coated, egg wash and bake. If they do slip down, just bake for longer until the pastry is cooked and serve the lovely pears in their messy pastry bowls. Style it out as rustic, they will still be delicious.

Serves 4

  • 4 pears – variety if up to you, I used conference (important that they are perfectly ripe. Hard and they won’t absorb the flavour, overripe they will be mushy)
  • 300ml dessert wine/sweet wine (you can use just water if you like here and add a bit more sugar)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 packet puff pastry (ideally a sheet not a block already rolled for ease)
  • 1 egg
  • Sesame seeds, honey, ice cream to serve
  1. Start by preparing the pears. Cut about a 1 /2 cm off the base of the pear so that it sits flat. Peel the pear. Using a melon baller/teaspoon to cut out the core.
  2. Tip the sweet wine, sugar, cinnamon and the seeds from the vanilla pod into a large saucepan. Add the pears. Top up with enough water to just cup up at least 3/4 of the way up the pear. (You can use just water here if you want).
  3. Bring to a gentle simmer and simmer for about 15 minutes until soft. If your pears were a little on the ripe side, simmer for 10.
  4. Once done, leave to cool completely in the poaching syrup. Remove once cool.
  5. When ready to bake, heat the oven to 200 and prepare a lined baking tray.
  6. Whisk an egg in a small bowl and set aside.
  7. Roll the pastry to about 1 pound coin thickness into a large rectangle if using a block. If using a sheet, unroll. Cut 4 small round discs out of pastry the same size as the pear base and place on the baking tray. Brush the pastry circles with beaten egg and place a pear on top.
  8. Carefully brush the pear all over with beaten egg.
  9. Cut long strips of pastry, about 1 cm wide. Starting at the bottom wrap the pastry around the pear in a swirl making sure to stick the unjoined ends together as you go using a little more egg if needed. Complete with all the pears.
  10. Brush the whole pastry wrapped pear with egg gently and scatter over some sesame seeds.
  11. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes until golden.
  12. Remove from the oven, drizzle with some honey (or caramel), some extra sesame seeds and a good dollop of vanilla ice cream. Serve!