If you’re looking for a crowd-pleasing dessert, this recipe is for you. It looks like only an experienced chef can pull off this beautiful presentation, but it’s really quite simple for anyone to execute.
It’s also light and indulgent at the same time. The warm poached pears seasoned with comforting spices like cardamom and cinnamon make for a light foundation, but the rich and creamy caramel sauce topping provides a level of indulgence that will please any dessert lover.
Like most sweets, sugar and salt are essential to the success of this dessert. Brandless coconut sugar, which is unrefined, is our sugar of choice for making a traditional caramel sauce, both in color and flavor.
And while it may seem counterintuitive, salt in dessert recipes is essential for bringing out and balancing the sweetness of the other ingredients. Like sugars, there are many salts to choose from.
We use Brandless Himalayan Pink Salt in this recipe to bring out the sweetness of both the caramel sauce and poached pears. Its mineral profile also lends nuanced flavors that round out and complement the overall flavor profile. Lastly, its pink hue and coarse texture enriches the presentation and mouthfeel of this dessert. Feel free to add a little color and crunch by adding a pinch to the caramel sauce you drizzle over the poached pears. It’ll look fantastic with the pomegranate seeds.
Salted Caramel Sauce:
- ⅔ cup (136g) Brandless Coconut Sugar
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons (40 ml) water
- 1 cup (8 fl oz) heavy cream or canned coconut milk at room temperature
- 1 tablespoons + 1 teaspoons (19g) butter or dairy-free alternative
- ¼ teaspoons Brandless Pink Himalayan Salt
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 fl oz) apple cider
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 fl oz) pomegranate juice
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons (75g) Brandless coconut sugar
- Pinch of Brandless Pink Himalayan Salt
- 2 strips lemon rind
- 1 star anise
- 2 cardamom pods
- 1 small piece cinnamon stick
- 4 large pears, ripe but still firm
- Water to cover
Pomegranate seeds for garnish
Pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt for garnish
- Make the caramel: In a small stainless steel saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar and water. Let cook without stirring for 8-10 minutes, until sugar is dissolved and turns a very deep amber color. If you have an instant-read or candy thermometer, it should register 220-230°F. Carefully pour in the cream (it may splatter) and whisk until mixture becomes a smooth sauce. Remove from heat, stir in butter to melt, and stir in salt. Cover and set aside.
- Poach the pears: Make the poaching liquid by whisking the apple cider, pomegranate juice, coconut sugar and salt in a large saucepan. Add lemon rind, star anise, cardamom and cinnamon.
- Peel and halve the pears and remove the cores with a melon baller or the tip of a paring knife. Set the pear halves in the poaching liquid, add enough water so the liquid reaches halfway up the sides of the pears, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
- Cover, reduce heat to maintain a bare simmer, and cook, turning the pears over every 5 minutes, until they are tender but not mushy. This will take anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes depending on size and ripeness. The pears are done when the tip of a sharp knife pierces through the flesh easily.
- Remove pears with slotted spoon and set aside.
- Reduce the syrup: Bring poaching liquid to a boil, and cook until reduced to a thin syrup that clings to the back of a spoon (it will thicken a bit more as it cools). Strain out the whole spices.
- Serve: Spoon a bit of the poaching syrup onto the bottom of plates or serving bowls, swirling the dishes to coat with the syrup. Top each with a pear half, and drizzle with the salted caramel sauce. Garnish with a sprinkle of pomegranate seeds and a little pinch of the Himalayan pink salt.