Pears Poached in Sweet Spice Coffee with Cinnamon Twists

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COFFEE POACHED PEARS WITH CINNAMON TWISTS

 

The idea for this recipe came from my grandmother, who, being a frugal Scotch-German woman, never wasted anything.  With my eye on the leftover coffee I always seem to have around, I developed this poaching liquid for pears.  Classically, red wine is used to poach fruits and, as I thought about it, coffee has many of the same qualities as wine: acidity, tannin, and rich flavor.  The Cinnamon Twists, which I find irresistible, came later.

 

6 cups strong coffee

2-1/2 cups dark-brown sugar

Zest and juice of 2 large oranges

1 3-inch cinnamon stick

8 small firm, ripe pears, peeled and cored

3/4 teaspoon cornstarch

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

 

Garnish: Fresh orange segments and mint sprigs

Cinnamon Twists (recipe follows)

 

In a large, wide non-reactive saucepan, combine the coffee, brown sugar, zest and juice of the oranges, ginger, and cinnamon stick and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 4 minutes.  Add the pears and return to the simmer.  Gently simmer until the pears are cooked through and tender, testing the pears with a toothpick.  The cooking time will vary greatly depending on the type and size of pear used.  When tender, remove from the heat. Strain 1 cup of the poaching liquid into a small saucepan.  Leave the pears in their liquid while making the sauce.

Dissolve the cornstarch in the orange juice and add to the small saucepan containing the cup of poaching liquid.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 2 minutes until lightly thickened.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

Serve the pears sliced and fanned in shallow bowls or on plates.  Spoon some of the sauce over and around the slices; garnish with 2 or 3 orange segments and mint sprigs.  Serve the Cinnamon Twists on the side. 

 

CINNAMON TWISTS

 

Makes approximately 24 twists

 

1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into bits

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 cup finely chopped almonds

1/2 cup sugar

1-1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

 

In a food processor, combine the flour and butter.  Pulse 2 or 3 times until the mixture resembles very coarse cornmeal.  Add the sour cream and pulse briefly until the dough just begins to come together.  Do not over mix.  Form into a disk, wrap in plastic, and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight.

 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment.  In a medium bowl, combine the almonds, sugar, and cinnamon.  Sprinkle the almond-sugar mixture over a work surface, place the disk of dough on top, and roll out into 9-by-12-inch rectangle approximately 1/8 inch thick, encrusting the underside of the dough with the almond-sugar mixture.  Trim the edges and cut into even strips, 9 inches long by 1/2 inch wide.

 

Gently pick up the ends of the strips and twist 2 or 3 times to form a corkscrew shape and place on the baking sheet.  Bake the twists for approximately 15 minutes or until they’re brown and crisp.  Remove to a rack and allow to cool.  The twists should be stored in an airtight container even for a few hours and are best eaten the same day they are baked.

 

John Ash (c) 1995

Revised 1/18/96