Poached Pears in Chocolate with Cinnamon Croutons
I love reading cookbooks for leisure. I curl up on the couch after the kids are in bed, wrap myself in a soft blanket, and flip through my collection of vegan/vegetarian cookbooks, page by page. Do any of you also enjoy reading cookbooks as much as you do a good novel?
I don’t necessarily look through them to find a recipe to try. Usually I’m just flipping through for inspiration. But every now and then I do land on one that I simply must attempt, albeit with a few changes to make it my own. This one I found in a great cookbook given to me by a friend. Here it is:
The recipes in this cookbook are pretty inventive, daring and involved. But this one by New York chef Terrance Brennan looked doable, even if my presentation doesn’t come close to his. I made only two changes to his recipe (his calls for hazelnut oil for the croutons, but I used almond oil; instead of topping it with soy gelato, I used my coconut whip). It was a fun dessert to make and my two friends and my Dad who all got a chance to taste it, gave it rave reviews.
Here’s what you’ll need:
For the pears:
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups dry white wine (check out Barnivore.com for a guide to finding vegan wine)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 ripe Bartlett pears, peeled and halved lengthwise
For the chocolate soup:
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips
For the cinnamon croutons:
- 2 tbsp almond or hazelnut oil
- 1 cup cubed country bread or baguette, crust still on
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 5 tsp sugar
For the coconut whip, see my recipe here.
To make the pears, bring the water, wine, sugar and cinnamon stick to a simmer. Add the pear halves and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes.
Once tender, remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool. Carefully take out the pear halves and using a melon baller or paring knife, scoop out the center core and seeds from each half and discard. Place the cored, seeded halves back into the poaching mixture, cover, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. For tips on how to poach pears and especially on how to avoid discoloration, check out this great link.
Meanwhile, make the cinnamon croutons. Warm the oil in a saucepan over low heat. Add the bread cubes and toast until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and then add the toasted bread cubes, tossing to coat evenly. Set aside.
For the chocolate soup, combine the water, sugar and cocoa powder in a saucepan and bring to a simmer, whisking often. Place the chocolate chips in a small mixing bowl and add the hot mixture to it, continuing to whisk it until smooth. Pour it into a carafe or a mixing bowl with a lip for easy pouring later on.
Make the coconut whip and chill in the refrigerator, covered, until it’s time to serve.
To plate the dessert, divide the pears evenly among 6 shallow bowls. Tip with a scoop of coconut whip. Place the cinnamon croutons on top and around the pear. Then carefully pour about 3/4 cup of the chocolate soup into the bottom of each bowl and serve immediately.