poached pears two ways
I believe I’ve mentioned this before – I love chai tea! My brain has been working overtime to come up with recipes to use the chai concentrate that I am totally addicted too. First up are poached pears in chai – these are delicious! The poaching liquid uses a fresh vanilla bean. Vanilla beans (and extract for that matter) are expensive, so be sure you’re getting a nice fresh one. The way to tell if it is fresh is to feel it. It should be soft and pliable, when you bend it, it should not break or crack. Costco sells gorgeous plump beans in a glass tube with a rubber stopper (the stopper helps keep them fresh longer once the package is opened). The glass tube is attached to a large piece of cardboard, look for it in the spice aisle. A good reason to purchase the beans at Costco is because of their high turnover. When purchasing vanilla beans at the grocery store, (where the turnover isn’t as quick) be sure to pull a bottle from the very back of the shelf and give it a good shake and listen to whether it sounds hard or soft. If you get it home and it is hard and breaking, be sure to return it, it is of no use in that state.
Once you remove the vanilla bean from the poaching liquid, allow it to dry on a counter for a couple days, when it is completely dry, add it to your container of granulated sugar, the vanilla flavor will permeate the sugar and give you lovely vanilla scented sugar.
The best way to core the pears is with a mellon-baller. It creates a perfectly round hole in the pear to fill. Tomorrow the other poached pear recipe – savory instead of sweet…
Chai Poached Pears filled with Mascarpone
3 cups Chai (spiced black tea latte) concentrate, such as Tazo
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 Bosc pears, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cored
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Finely grated zest of 1 orange, divided
1/4 cup heavy cream
Freshly grated nutmeg, for garnish
Pour Chai concentrate into a saucepan just large enough to hold pear halves snuggly. Using the back of a paring knife, scrape the vanilla seeds from only one of the bean halves (return other half to its container) and add both the vanilla seeds and the bean half to the pan. Place pear halves in pan, cut side down. Bring to a boil, immediately reduce heat to a low simmer. Poach pears for 15 to 20 minutes until soft. (The exact amount of poaching time will depend on the ripeness of the pears, so test by poking with the tip of a paring knife periodically.) Use tongs to gently turn over pear halves, cut side up. Remove from heat and allow the pears to cool completely in the liquid. When cool, remove pear halves to a plate and reserve poaching liquid.
Mix mascarpone, vanilla and ground cinnamon in a small bowl, add 2 teaspoons of the poaching liquid and stir to blend until smooth. Either dollop the mascarpone mixture into the holes of the pear halves or place the mixture in a pastry bag with desired tip and decoratively pipe into holes.
Remove all but 3/4 cup of the poaching liquid from the saucepan*, add 1/2 of the orange zest and the cream. Place over very low heat, stirring occasionally until hot, about 5 minutes.
To serve place one mascarpone filled pear half on a each plate. Spoon sauce around the pears. Garnish with remaining orange zest and freshly grated nutmeg.
*Chill the remaining liquid and reuse to make Chai tea lattes (to do so just mix chai with an equal amount of milk over ice, stir, and enjoy!)