This is a great Christmas dessert, or something you can have any time of year, especially if you’re having dinner guests. Poached pears have long been a favourite of mine, so this time I wanted to do something with them that captured the essence of the winter season. Mulled pears seemed the obvious choice, using pretty much the same seasoning as for mulled wine and poaching the pears in that. I don’t drink anymore, so I’ve used red grape juice instead of red wine for my recipe. You can use wine if you prefer, or perhaps two thirds wine and one third water. Whatever you use, you must make them the day before you want to eat them to allow the flavours and colour to fully infuse. You must also chill the coconut cream the night before, so that the cream separates from the water, which will give you that thick, whipped cream consistency.
If you plan ahead, this dessert will be quite the show-stopper. The recipe makes 6 pears, but there is enough liquid to cover up to 8 pears, if they are not too big. Just make sure they are fully covered in the fridge when you leave them overnight. There is plenty of syrup left over, so you can pour as much as you like onto your final dessert. I kept mine sparse for the aesthetics of the photograph, so don’t think you have to throw it away because it isn’t in the picture.
Prep time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 45 minutes, plus overnight for chilling
For the Mulled Pears:
1 litre red crape juice (or 2 parts red wine/1 part water)
1 orange, cut into 6 pieces
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground allspice
220g golden caster sugar
6 pears, peeled but stalks left on
For the Vegan Whipped Cream:
1 carton coconut cream
2 tbsp icing sugar
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
The day before you want to eat it, put all the mulled pear ingredients, apart from the pears themselves, into a large saucepan and mix together a little. Add the 6 pears and bring the pot to the boil. Simmer for 40-45 minutes, until the pears feel tender when you stick a small, sharp knife into the flesh. Allow the pears and syrup to completely cool, then store the whole lot in a container and chill overnight.
Put the carton of coconut cream in the fridge at the same time.
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The next day the pears will be fully infused. Open up the chilled carton of coconut cream and pour out the excess water, leaving just the solid coconut cream behind. Put this into a bowl with the icing sugar and nutmeg and whip up with a hand whisk until light and fluffy.
To serve, cut a small piece off the base of the pears so that they stand upright and serve one on each plate. Pour a spoonful or two of the syrup over the pears and then add a spoonful of the whipped cream. Serve with slices of orange if desired.