Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tea Poached Pears & Caramel Sauce


I love cooking with tea and this dessert recipe is perfect for the season's harvest pears. In this particular recipe incarnation of poached pears, I have used a spicy Chai tea with the flavours and bouquet of cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, mint, and nutmeg. Do experiment though. If you want a more subtle "true" tea flavour try black tea, the distinctive muscatel characteristics of Illam Nepal is lovely with pears. Experiment with green tea using Jasmine or with my favourite Oolong tea, Quangzhou Milk Oolong.

Cooking with tea is one of the easiest ways to impart a unique flavour to your cooking. Dried leaves can add crunch and flavour to rubs for fish, meat or poultry & brewed tea can be used as a braising liquid or a marinade. Cakes, cookies, fruit and dessert sauces will become exotic with a certain "je ne c'est quoi"!


Tea Poached Pears with Caramel Sauce
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients for the Pears

4 cups water6 tsp Chai tea
½ cup granulated sugar1 lemon, zest and juice
4 firm but ripe Bosc pears
1 cup creme fraiche or whipped cream for garnish

Method

1. In medium saucepan, bring water to 185 degrees F or just under boiling. Add tea; cover and brew 5 minutes. Remove tea. Stir in sugar, zest and half of the lemon juice.
2. Meanwhile, keeping pear whole, peel fruit leaving stem intact and cut slice from bottom of the pear to make level
3. Using a melon baller, remove core from underside of pears.
4. Add pears to tea mixture in saucepan and simmer, stirring occasionally for ½ hour or until pears are tender.

Ingredients for the Caramel Sauce

½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup water
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp unsalted butter

Method

1. To prepare caramel sauce, place sugar, water, and lemon juice in a small saucepan. Set over medium heat, stirring just until sugar dissolves.
2. Continue to cook, swirling pan occasionally until mixture turns a golden caramel colour, about 5 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and carefully stir in 3 tbsp (45 ml) of pear poaching liquid, and butter.

To Serve

1. Spoon some of the caramel sauce onto the centre of a dessert plate and tilting the pate in a circular motion to evenly distribute the sauce on the plate.
2. Place each pear upright in the centre and knap (spoon over) just enough of the caramel sauce to lightly glaze the pear.
3. Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche or whipped cream.

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