Not all recipes are super quick and easy. Not all get gasps and stares from your dinner companions either. My recipe for Hibiscus Poached Pears, with Panna Cotta does take a little while to prepare, but most of the time is spent just waiting for things to cook or set up.
As we approach the holiday season, I find that the most impressive dishes are the ones with great color. Take these Hibiscus Poached Pears for instance, the beautiful shape of pears coupled with the brilliant ruby shade of hibiscus. For anyone who has never had hibiscus tea, it is full both of color and flavor, imparting a sweet floral element that marries very well with pears.
I am all about easy-to-reproduce recipes, and I’ve prepared a video to go along with this showing the method of the most difficult part; peeling the pears. In fact, were peeling actually necessary, I doubt this recipe would find its way onto my blog. Delicious as it is, if it takes great skill or culinary talent to prepare, I know there’s some readers that I’ll lose. This trick is amazing, and works well – as long as the pears are ripe.
Granted, there is some prep work; it’s not just a mix, toss, and cook recipe. BUT, if you need an impressive dessert, and you don’t mind a little work, these hibiscus poached pears will be a great once or twice a year recipe that will impress your guests. As a bonus, there’s a quick and super easy recipe attached to the bottom for Panna Cotta, a sweet cream-based Italian delicacy that is exceedingly easy to prepare, that pairs really well with these gorgeous pears.
Hibiscus Poached Pears with Panna Cotta
- 8 cups water – (or 6 cups water and 2 cups red wine)
- 1 cup opened hibiscus tea bags – Republic of Tea or Traditional Medicinals brands work well
- 2 whole star anise pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 whole cloves
- 1/2 cup sweetener of choice – stevia / erythritol blend, or monkfruit also works well
- orange extract – to taste
- 8 medium pears
- 3 tbsp cold water
- 1 tbsp unflavored gelatin
- 3 cups heavy cream
- 1/3 cup sweetener of choice
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- To prepare the pears, get a large pot and fill with enough water to cover pears. Get another bowl and fill with cold water. Bring pot to a boil, and then turn off heat.
- Place the pears in the hot pot for approximately 30 seconds. Remove one, and place in bowl with cold water. Test to see if skin will peel off. If not, put back in pot with hot water for no more than 30 seconds.
- Remove pears from pot with hot water and place in bowl with cold water. Peel all pears, leaving skins in the bowl.
- If you want to serve the pears as is, continue on to next step. If you prefer to cut them in half longways and remove the pit (with a melon baller), now would be the time to do that. If not, be sure your guests are aware there will be pits. Alternatively, you can also leave them whole and scoop up into the bottom of them with a melon baller and remove that way.
- Empty pot of hot water, rinse, and fill with 8 cups of water. Bring the water to a boil. Once the water reaches a boil, place the hibiscus tea, star anise pods, cinnamon stick, cloves (and wine if you choose to) in pot. Boil for 10-15 minutes, or until the contents reach a deep ruby hue and become fragrant, and then turn heat down to medium low.
- Add peeled pears and poach for 20-25 minutes, turning them frequently. If cored, or split halfway, they will not need as much time. Pears should be tender but not too soft, still remaining firm, but having some give when pressed on with a spoon. When they reach a good texture, turn heat off, and allow them to cool, turning occasionally.
- When cooled to room temperature, or near to it, remove the pears and place in a container to store if not serving immediately.
- Strain the liquid from the pot, and place in container to serve over pears if not serving immediately. Alternatively, you can return the pot to the stove, turn the heat to medium-high and simmer to reduce and thicken for a syrup.
- In a small bowl sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand for 60 seconds to soften. Stir to ensure it is dissolved.
- In a large saucepan bring cream and sweetener of choice to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to keep anything from burning. Remove from heat, and stir in gelatin mixture and vanilla and mix to fully incorporate. Divide between eight 1/2-cup ramekins and cool to room temperature. Chill, covered, at least 4 hours, or overnight.