Over the holidays I feel like I’m in the kitchen 24/7. It’s a constant revolving door of dinner guests, yet somehow life is approximately 200% more hectic and it requires so much more energy just to get dinner on the table (even when dinner just involves a rotisserie chicken!). Even still, the one thing I feel very strongly about is that no matter what, dinner guests will always get homemade dessert. These gingerbread poached pears with whipped coconut cream are perfect for this busy time of year. They require very little hands on time and they store beautifully for a few days in the fridge (assuming you can maintain self control and not eat them all!).
Earlier this week, my husband Lucas called me at 4pm to tell me his dad was in town from Texas for work. It turns out my father in law had told Lucas that he was coming to town weeks ago, but Lucas forgot to put it on the calendar or even mention it in passing to me. Of course his dad was coming to dinner to see his granddaughter and, of course, I was wiped out with a nasty cold. I whipped up leftovers for dinner and smiled because I knew there were 8 soft spiced gingerbread poached pears in my fridge from this shoot the day before. A quick zap to warm them up and dollop of freshly whipped coconut cream and I had a simple dessert perfect for entertaining.
When making whipped coconut cream, you have to plan a day in advance by chilling a can of coconut cream until firm (don’t try to cheat by putting it in the freezer. That does not work and will leave your final product with little beads of hard coconut cream mixed in – yuck!). Unlike traditional whipped cream, you start whipped coconut cream with a fully firmed up can of coconut cream and beat it in the bowl of your stand mixer until smooth and holding soft peaks. As such, whipped coconut cream has a little more body than traditional whipped cream.
With its small bowl, the KitchenAid® Artisan® Mini Stand Mixer is the perfect tool for this job. There are many kinds of coconut cream you can buy: a 15-ounce can, an 8-ounce can, or even scraping the cream off the top of a can of full-fat coconut milk. When you want just a little bit of coconut cream, the 8-ounce can is perfect and you need the whisk and the small bowl of the mini stand mixer to make it come together. The Artisan 5-quart Stand Mixer is too large for that small amount of cream, so if that’s all you’ve got, don’t worry, you can easily make a double batch. The whipped coconut cream will last for a few days in the fridge as well!
Here’s how to have a quick and easy dessert prepped and ready to go for surprise dinner guests:
First, prep your pears. Peel them and then halve them with the 8” Chef knife from the KitchenAid® Professional Series Cutlery Set. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the core. Set aside.
Put all of the poaching ingredients into a 3-quart saucepan from the KitchenAid® Tri-Ply Copper 10-Piece Set and bring it to simmer over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
Gently lower the pears into the simmering liquid, adding more water if necessary, to cover the pears completely.
Place a round of parchment paper with a small circle cut out of the center over the top to keep the pears completely submerged. Let simmer 15-20 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the whipped coconut cream. Scoop the coconut cream into the bowl of the KitchenAid® Artisan® Mini Stand Mixer. Beat on medium speed, gradually increasing to high until smooth.
Add vanilla extract and powdered sugar, and continue beating on high until it holds soft peaks.
Remove the poached pears from the liquid and set aside. Add a little bit more brown sugar and simmer on medium to reduce the poaching liquid into a syrup.
Serve poached pears warm with a spoonful of syrup and a dollop of whipped coconut cream.
(Don’t forget to lick the spoon!).
The best part about poached pears is that they make your house smell like the holidays in a way that feels all cozy and warm.
Gingerbread Poached Pears with Whipped Coconut Cream
Yields: 4 servings
Gingerbread Poached Pears
4 ripe but firm pears, such as Bosc, peeled, halved, and cored
4 cups water, plus more as needed
¾ cup dark brown sugar, divided
2 cinnamon sticks
2-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and scraped
1 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon whole allspice berries
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Whipped Coconut Cream
1 8-ounce can coconut cream (or the cream from a 13.5 ounce can full-fat coconut milk), chilled for at least 6 hours
2 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Prep your pears. Peel the pears, then using the 8” Chef knife from the KitchenAid® Professional Series Cutlery Set, slice them in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scoop out and discard the core. Set the pears aside.
Put the water, ½ cup dark brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, ginger slices, vanilla bean seeds and pod, whole cloves, allspice berries, nutmeg, and salt into a 3-quart saucepan from the KitchenAid® Tri-Ply Copper 10-Piece Set and bring it to simmer over medium heat. Stir until the sugar dissolves.
Carefully lower the pears into the simmering liquid, adding more water to cover the pears completely if necessary. Place a round of parchment paper with a small circle cut out of the center over the top, ensuring all of the pears stay completely submerged. Let the pears simmer 15-20 minutes until a thin knife slides in without any resistance.
Meanwhile, prepare the whipped coconut cream. Scoop out the firm coconut cream from the can into the bowl of the KitchenAid® Artisan® Mini Stand Mixer, leaving behind any liquid. Beat the cream on medium speed, gradually increasing to high until smooth.
Add the vanilla extract and powdered sugar. Continue beating on high until it holds soft peaks. Store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
Use a slotted spoon to carefully remove the poached pears from the liquid and set aside. Add the remaining brown sugar and simmer on medium heat to reduce the poaching liquid by half, until thick and syrupy.
Serve poached pears warm with a spoonful of syrup and a dollop of whipped coconut cream. If making in advance, store all three pieces in airtight containers in the fridge and warm the pears and syrup in the microwave just before serving.
*The Contributor of this post has been compensated by KitchenAid for this post, but this post represents the Contributor’s own opinion.*