Saffron & Cardamom Poached Pears

I used to be a chocolate junkie when it came to desserts, and never even gave a second glance to the fruit based ones peeking out at you from the dessert counter. Yeah, the odd pineapple upside down cake made it’s appearance once in a while, as did the fruits with cream, but none of them ever had a wow factor. I mean they were not chocolate! That is until recently, when I moved to Sydney and discovered a wide variety of fresh and beautiful produce. It was like re-learning the basics! The simplicity of baking an apple with honey and brie, or, peaches with ricotta, or poaching pears, lightly macerating berries, the possibilities and combinations are endless really. And without getting too poetic about fruits(!), I will now get on to the recipe.

Poached PearsThis Poached Pear recipe is simple with delicate flavours of saffron and cardamom shining through. Saffron gives the pear a lovely sheen of colour which combined with cardamoms gives that slight hint of spice without overpowering the fruit. I added some lemon juice to get that balance of sweetness with a slight tartness which went perfectly with the delicate flavours of pear. This is an elegant dessert which is fuss free and can simmer away in a corner, while you get other things done. Also, it just looks so pretty when plated up, that you guests are sure to be impressed! I used Chardonnay for the poaching liquid, as I had some leftover from an open bottle, but really any dry white wine should work well. I like to buy ‘cleanskins’ or label-less wines for cooking, and in my experience, they work just as well. So no need to open a bottle of your finest for cooking, keep them for drinking!

Saffron & Cardamom Poached Pears

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 2hr 30mins
  • Difficulty: “easy”
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  • 1 tbsp cardamom pods
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp saffron threads
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 4 firm pears, peeled, stems intact (you may core the pears if you like, but I didn’t bother with it)
  • Crème fraîche, or, Vanilla bean Ice cream to serve


  1. Gently crush cardamom pods with a rolling pin or the bottom of a skillet to slightly crack open the pods without releasing seeds.
  2. Combine cardamom, wine, sugar, lemon juice, saffron, and salt in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring the pot to a simmer.
  3. Add the pears to the liquid mix. Add some water to it so as to completely submerge the pears, but not too much. Cover with lid slightly ajar and simmer, turning occasionally, until pears are tender but not mushy. This should take around 30mins. Lightly pierce with a fork to check doneness, it should pierce easily.
  4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer pears to a plate.
  5. Increase the heat and boil poaching liquid until it thickens and is reduced to 1 cup, around 10-15mins.
  6. Spoon some of syrup over the pears. To serve, plate the pears with a dollop of ice cream, or, crème fraîche and pour some of the remaining syrup over it.

This recipe can be made 8 hours ahead. You can cover and refrigerate the pears and let the syrup be at room temperature. Rewarm the syrup before serving and spoon it over cold pears. Enjoy!


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