This dessert has become a surprising hit in our household, especially with our toddler who calls it “sticky pears.” I’m happy about this because the recipe comes from the cookbook, Eat Taste Heal, which serves as a guide to the ancient healing wisdom of Ayurvedic medicine. Without the whipped cream that I added as a decadent and optional topping, there is no sugar, dairy, or gluten in the recipe. You’ll be surprised just how sweet the dates and maple syrup make this delicious spiced glaze. Choose pears that are firm and sweet, such as Anjou, Bartlett, Bosc, or Winter Nellis.
Poached “Sticky Pears” with Orange-Date Glaze and Cardamom Whipped Cream
(Adapted from the Ayurvedic cookbook, Eat Taste Heal, by Thomas Yarema, M.D., Daniel Rhoda, D.A.S., and Chef Johnny Brannigan; I upped the seasonings and dates for a more heavily spiced and thicker glaze, and included an optional cardamom whipped cream topping.)
- 6 ripe but firm pears
- Filtered water
- 6 dates, preferably Medjool, pitted and finely chopped
- Juice of one orange
- 2-3 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus a cinnamon stick, broken in two (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- Zest of one orange
- Pinch of salt
- For the whipped cream: 1 cup cream, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom, sugar to taste (not much is needed here)
Directions: With a paring knife, peel each pear, leaving it whole and with its stem intact. Cut a thin slice off the base of each pear so that it can stand upright. Place the pears upright in a saucepan just large enough to hold them side by side. Add an inch of water to the pan.
Place the pan over medium heat and bring the water to a simmer. Add the chopped dates, orange juice, maple syrup, cinnamon (and cinnamon stick), cloves, ginger, zest, and pinch of salt. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, uncovered, until the pears are tender enough to be pierced easily with the tip of a sharp knife, about 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, to make the optional cardamom whipped cream topping, whip cream until it starts to thicken, add sugar, vanilla & cardamom and continue to whip until it reaches the desired thickness.
With a slotted spoon, carefully remove the pears from the pan, placing them upright on either a large flat serving dish or on individual serving plates. Remove cinnamon stick pieces if used.
Continue to simmer the liquid in the pan over low heat, stirring continuously for about 10 minutes. Cool slightly and use an immersion blender or transfer to an upright blender to blend into a smooth consistency. Return glaze to the pan and cook until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Spoon the glaze over the pears and serve with an optional cardamom whipped cream and sliced oranges on the side. Enjoy!