Poached Pears with Vanilla

I can always count on Mark Bittman.

In How to Cook Everything, Bittman recommends poaching pears with sugar and vanilla bean for a simple, light dessert. And that’s exactly what we needed after pizza and ravioli.

We were really not very hungry, but I had to finish out the Challenge with my third and final course. So I peeled and cored one big Bosc pear. (Bosc pears are dense and fragrant and excellent for poaching.) Then I boiled 2 cups of water with 1 cup of sugar and added the aromatic beans from 1/4 of a vanilla bean. I submerged the pear in the liquid and let it do its thing.

Twenty minutes later we had the base for our delicate dessert. I let it cool, then sliced it and arranged it on a plate with two scoops of vanilla frozen custard.

You could use the same method to poach apples, apricots, peaches, and pineapples. Bittman also recommends using star anise, ginger, or cloves in place of the vanilla bean.

So that concludes our January Seasonal Ingredient Challenge! Any ideas for February?

Poached Pears with Vanilla

(Printable Recipe)

Makes 1 big serving to share.


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1 big Bosc pear
  • vanilla ice cream (optional)


  1. Combine sugar and vanilla with 2 cups water in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil while you peel and core the pear.
  2. Lower pear into boiling water and adjust heat to a simmer. Cook, turning every 5 minutes, until pear is met with little resistance from a sharp knife, about 20 minutes. Turn off heat and allow pear to cool in liquid.
  3. Remove pear and slice it. Reduce poaching liquid to 1/2 cup. Arrange pears and vanilla ice cream on a plate, and spoon reduced poaching liquid on top.

(adapted from Mark Bittman)

2 thoughts on “Poached Pears with Vanilla

  1. I received Bittman’s book for Christmas, and I’m completely in love with it. The first thing we made out of it (pizza dough, of course) was better than any other recipe I’d used for it before, and the layout is fantastic.

    And, poached pears sounds like the perfect light dessert to a heavy dinner. Loved reading about the competition!

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