Ever since I lived in Southeast Asia, I’ve enjoyed adding Asian spices to my cooking, not only for their flavor but for their fragrance, too. Pears can take lots of different spices, especially cardamom and Szechuan pepper, yet the right quantity is critical, as too much would overwhelm the subtlety of this delicate fruit. You can use the same quantity of syrup and adjust the number of pears according to the size of the pears and your guests’ appetites. This dessert goes really well with the Pistachio Madeleines
– PREPARATION TIME 10 minutes.
– COOKING TIME 35 minutes.
– 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns.
– 1 cup sugar.
– 1 teaspoon cardamom pods, lightly crushed.
– juice of ¼ lime.
– 4 large or 8 small, firm pears, such as William, or Comice, peeled with the stems left on.
– 2 tablespoons unsalted butter.
Step 2: Bring the sugar, half the cardamom, the lime juice and 3½ cups water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally 5 to 8 minutes until the sugar dissolves and starts to turn syrupy.
Step 3: Add the pears to the pan with the syrup. You need to cover the pears with a cartouche. Turn the heat down to very low and simmer 8 minutes, or until the pears are slightly soft. To check the pears, insert the tip of a knife into the thickest part—there should still be a little resistance. Put the pears on a clean dish towel to drain. Return the pan to the heat and simmer 8 to 10 minutes until the syrup reduces by about three-quarters.
Step 4: Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. When the butter is foaming, add the pears and the remaining cardamom and cook 3 to 4 minutes, turning occasionally, until they are light golden all over.
Step 5: Add 4 tablespoons of the reduced syrup to the pan and cook the pears 4 to 5 minutes, basting them occasionally with the syrup, until they are tender, but not mushy. Baste the pears again with the syrup and add the crushed Szechuan pepper. Serve the pears with the syrup poured over the top and any remaining syrup served separately.