Happy Halloween! Phew, now that I have that out of the way, I can officially start planning for the holidays, right? We’re not going home for the holidays this year so I’m counting on all of you to get me in the holiday spirit.
Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday for many reasons. The first and second ones are pie, but a close third is that fact that Pat and I got engaged on Thanksgiving! I love gathering everyone around a big table and eating until you are so full you feel like you’re going to pop.
Cooking a huge Thanksgiving meal can be a bit daunting so I try to prep as many dishes as possible ahead of time. This recipe for chai spice poached pears can be almost completely made ahead. Poached pears keep in the fridge for a couple of days, and the chai sorbet is also made ahead. Really the only thing you are responsible for on the day of is heating the pears and making a little chocolate ganache, which takes all of a few minutes. Pears are also in season, with all 10 varieties of USA Pears being harvested right now, so you can feel good about making your meal a little more sustainable too.
Poached pears are an absolutely stunning dessert and I’m going to let you in on a little secret – they are so dang easy. My favorite are Bosc pears because they keep their shape nicely when baked. You can also poach Anjou or Bartlett as well. Choose pears that are firm and even a teeny bit underripe as the longer they take to soften up, the more poaching liquid will infuse them.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my trip to India to volunteer in a Tibetan hospital a few years ago and how chai tea is a part of everything there – breaks at work, gatherings of friends and of course mealtimes. It’s obvious that it’s influenced my cooking with all the chai spice recipes that show up here.
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Chai Spice Poached Pears with Chai Sorbet
- Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
- Cook Time: 1 hour
- Total Time: 2 hours 30 minutes
- Yield: 4-6
- Category: Dessert
- 4-inch piece of ginger, in thin slices
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 8 peppercorns
- 2 vanilla beans, sliced in half lengthwise
- 2-star anise
- 3 whole allspice
- 10 cloves
- 20 cardamom pods, lightly smashed
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 cup raw sugar
- 8 cups water
- 6 teaspoons loose black tea (6 tea bags)
- 4-6 pears (my favorite is Bosc, followed by Anjou or Bartlett)
For the ganache:
- 3/4 cup poaching liquid
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate (about 1 cup of chocolate chips)
For the chai sorbet:
- 1/4 c. reserved poaching liquid
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar
- Uncooked egg, washed with soap and water
- Combine all spices (except black tea) in a large stockpot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and let simmer for 15 minutes.
- Turn off heat and add black tea. Let steep 15 additional minutes.
- Meanwhile, peel the pears and remove the core with a melon baller starting from the bottom. Leave the stem intact.
- Strain spices out of the liquid and return liquid to pot. Add pears and return to a boil. Simmer on low for 45 minutes to one hour until the thickest part of the pear is tender when poked with a toothpick. Remove from pot with a slotted spoon and allow to cool on a baking rack covered with parchment paper. Reserve the poaching liquid for the ganache and sorbet. Serve immediately or wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 2 days.
- Once ready to serve, make the ganache: combine 1/4 cup poaching liquid and bittersweet chocolate
- To make the chai sorbet: Pour the leftover poaching liquid in a fine mesh strainer and chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight. Prepare simple syrup by heating sugar and water in a saucepan and allow to cool to room temperature. Using a well cleaned-uncooked egg, add simple syrup to the poaching liquid until a portion of the egg the size of a quarter emerges above the surface of the mixture. This is how you know your sorbet will be smooth and not freeze into a solid brick!
- To assemble: Rewarm the poached pears if needed. Drizzle with chai chocolate ganache and serve with a scoop of chai sorbet.
Tips: Less ripe pears work best as they take longer to soften and therefore have a stronger flavor.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.