Cinnamon and Cardamom Poached Pears with Salted Caramel Sauce
This dessert is light yet indulgent at the same time. Spiced poached pears are a light foundation to this dessert while the rich salted caramel sauce and streusel-like bread crumb topping add the perfect complement of texture and indulgence.
Yield: 8 Servings
Salted Caramel Sauce:
⅔ cup (136g) coconut or brown sugar
2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. (40ml) water
1 cup (8 fl oz) heavy cream, room temperature
1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. (19g) butter
½ tsp. Kosher salt
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. (5 fl oz.) apple cider
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. (5 fl oz.) pomegranate juice
¼ cup (50g) cane sugar
2 Tbsp. (25g) coconut or brown sugar
Pinch Kosher salt
2 strips lemon rind
1 star anise
2 cardamom pods
1 cinnamon stick
4 large pears, ripe but still firm
Water to cover
3 oz (about 2 slices) TML plain sourdough bread
1 Tbsp. (14g) butter
2 tsp. coconut or brown sugar
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
⅛ tsp. ground cardamom
⅛ tsp. Kosher salt
Make the caramel: In a small stainless steel saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water. Let cook without stirring for 8-10 minutes, until sugar is dissolved and turns a deep amber color. If you have an instant-read or candy thermometer, it should register 220-230°F. Carefully pour in the cream (it may splatter) and whisk until mixture becomes a smooth sauce. Remove from heat, stir in butter to melt, and stir in salt. Cover and set aside.
Poach the pears: Make the poaching liquid by whisking the apple cider, pomegranate juice, cane and coconut sugars and salt in a large saucepan. Add lemon rind star anise, cardamom and cinnamon.
Peel and halve the pears and remove the cores with a melon baller or the tip of a paring knife. Set the pear halves in the poaching liquid, add enough water so the liquid reaches halfway up the sides of the pears, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cover, reduce heat to maintain a bare simmer, and cook, turning the pears over over every 5 minutes, until they are tender but not mushy. This will take between 10-20 minutes depending on size and ripeness. The pears are done when the tip of a sharp knife pierces through the flesh easily.
Remove pears with slotted spoon and set aside.
Reduce the syrup: Bring poaching liquid to a boil, and cook until reduced to a thin syrup that clings to the back of a spoon (it will thicken a bit more as it cools). Strain out the whole spices.
Make the bread crumbs: Tear the bread into chunks and pulse in a food processor until broken down into coarse crumbs. Alternatively you can grate the bread on the finest holes of a box grater.
Serve: Spoon a bit of the poaching syrup onto the bottom of plates or serving bowls, swirling the dishes to coat with the syrup. Top each with a pear half, and drizzle with salted caramel. Garnish with bread crumbs and pomegranate seeds.