Poached Pears with Almond Strudel and Goat Cheese
Pears of all sorts appear in the market in the early autumn. Bartlett’s are a soft eating pear that is best early in the season. Buy green and ripen at room temperature until golden yellow. The best baking pears are green and red Anjou, Comice, Bosc, and Seckel. For this dish it is best to use Anjou, Comice, or Bosc that are firm not soft. Be sure to use almond meal with a course texture rather than almond flour.
Though desserts by nature are sweet unless considering the French cheese and fruit course a dessert, which happens to be my favorite dinner finale. Unfortunately sugar in its many forms (cane white and brown sugar, coconut sugar, honey, corn syrup, etcetera) tend to be absorbed rapidly by the body causing sugar highs and lows that bring on a myriad of maladies not conducive to good health or weight. This absorption can be slowed by adding a bit of fatty goat cheese rather than sweet ice cream or whipped cream. Also, the use of diced dates adds a nice sweetness enveloped in fiber, again slowing absorption. The added honey has been kept to a minimum here. Hence this dessert was created to satisfy that bit of sweetness to the ending of a meal.
1 cup dry white wine or apple juice
⅓ cup honey
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 Anjou pears, peeled, halved lengthwise, cored
¼ cup cold goat cheese
1 tablespoon honey
¼ teaspoon almond extract
½ cup almond meal
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into one-fourth inch dice
¼ teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons dates, pitted, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sliced almonds
1. Combine the wine or apple juice, honey, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a short sided non-reactive pan that is barely large enough to contain the four pear halves. Bring to a boil. Slice a small piece of the pear off the back side of the pears so they will lie flat without moving when finished.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
3. Add the pears to the boiling liquid cut side down. Poach for eight minutes or until the cut side has totally softened, and have turned from opaque to translucent. Turn the pears over and continue to poach for another eight minutes or more until tender when pierced with a toothpick. Remove the pears to a plate. Continue to simmer the liquid until syrupy.
4. While poaching make mix the goat cheese, honey, and almond extract together in a bowl. In another bowl mix the almond meal, and salt with the butter, almond extract, and dates until crumbly. Toss the almonds slices into this mixture.
5. Stuff each pear core with goat cheese mixture. Top with the strudel mixture. Place back into the sauce pan with the syrup in the bottom. Place in the oven.
6. Bake until the strudel is firm and toasted.
7. Remove from the oven and plate each pear. If necessary, reduce the pan juices again until syrupy. Pour the syrup around the bottom of the pears. Let sit for five minutes and serve warm.