poached coffee vanilla pear dessert with mocha macarons

Poached Coffee Vanilla Pears with Mocha Macarons

I’m sure we’re not alone with these poached coffee vanilla pears. How many times have you looked for a sophisticated dessert but it has to be super light, perhaps gluten free, but above all – simple but effective?

Now that we’ve had our fill of Christmas puddings, pumpkin pies, yule logs, mince pies, fruit cakes and chocolates in all forms, who’s ready to start all over again to bring in the New Year with yet more gastronomic pleasures? Count me in, as long as it’s slightly lighter this time.

Light Desserts vs Heavy Rich Holiday Puddings

When entertaining the French, it took me a few years to work out that menus need to be planned carefully; if I’m serving a large main course after an amuse-bouche (something small to tickle the tastebuds before the meal) then starter/hors-d’oeuvres – and then it’s followed with an ambitious taste-of-the-regions cheese board – it can be difficult keeping up when a heavy finale to the meal is served. I used to love doing that and soon learned the hard way. With a thud.

The French could have a crise cardiaque (heart attack) if they see a large pudding arrive, piled high on their plate and since they’re polite, they wade through it and suffer in silence. I’m now the same. Have you ever had that feeling of just being so stuffed that you’re kicking-yourself-for-being-so-greedy uncomfortable?

poached coffee vanilla pear dessert with mocha macarons

French Chef Inspiration

For light dessert inspiration, I pounced straight away on Anne-Sophie Pic’s French cookbook, Recettes Pour Recevoir. The Michelin-starred chef has put together her cooking lessons for ideal recipes aimed at entertaining. Claudia, aka Journey of an Italian Cook, talked more about Anne-Sophie Pic’s career last week and shares her tomato chutney.)

Anne-Sophie Pic’s dessert for a poached pear in vanilla and blackcurrant with a coffee fondant seemed a perfectly light and chic end to a meal. What really caught me eye, though, is that it would be beautifully peared (couldn’t help myself, sorry) with macarons.

My first try with the cassis macaron – terrible photo!

Developing the Recipe

That would definitely keep my French friends happy. But I can’t just copy a recipe from a cookbook. I had to make my own version that’s easy to make at home. So, I inversed the flavours: the fondant au café and vanilla tuile was replaced by a tutti-frutti blackcurrant macaron (see p.83 of Mad About Macarons!) and the blackcurrant poaching sauce was replaced by a coffee sauce. My first try. Shame about the presentation! However, dead easy and the dessert was now totally gluten-free.

What I love about macarons is that they can be made a few days in advance (or even frozen and taken out the freezer 1 hour before serving at room temperature) so you can stay zen while preparing the rest of the meal.

Not only can you serve these poached coffee vanilla pears as a double bill with chocolate-coffee macarons, but if you have left-over chocolate ganache from your macarons, then warm it gently and offer it as a triple whammy with the pear and vanilla-coffee syrup.

Poached coffee vanilla pear gluten free dessert

Poached coffee vanilla pear dessert

By serving a light dessert like this, nobody feels the need to stuff themselves more than they wish. The paradox is that when you do serve them on a large platter in the middle of the table, I’ve noticed that guests tend to eat much more than they were intending. But hey, that’s their problem. I’m no longer responsible for their hidden macaronivore tendencies…

Poached Coffee Vanilla Pears

Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20+20 minutes

150g sugar
1 litre water
1 vanilla pod, cut lengthways
2 tbsps coffee granules
4 large firm pears

  1. Boil the sugar with the water, vanilla and coffee in a heavy based casserole dish or saucepan. Once boiling, turn down the heat.
  2. Peel the pears and cut them in half horizontally. Place them in the syrup and poach them gently with lid on for 20 minutes.
  3. Drain the pears, set aside and chill.
  4. Boil up the coffee syrup for about 20 minutes until concentrated and thickened.

I usually place the left over coffee syrup in a jam jar, sealed in the fridge. Over the next few days, just heat it gently and pour over ice cream.

Serve with chocolate-mocha macarons (simply add 2 tbps of granulated coffee to the heating cream while making your classic chocolate ganache. Recipe on page 47 of Mad About Macarons!) Or infuse the bruised seeds from 4 cardamom pods to the coffee poaching liquid, remove, and serve with chocolate, cardamom & ginger macarons (see page 56 of Mad About Macarons!)


poached coffee vanilla pears

28 replies
  1. Christina | Christina's Cucina
    Christina | Christina's Cucina says:

    Coffee syrup and pears? What a wonderful combination of flavors! Yes, a light dessert that’s not overly sweet and cloying is just perfect after a large meal. Yet another one of your delicious concoctions that I’ll need to put on my ever-growing list of what to make! 🙂

  2. Jill Colonna
    Jill Colonna says:

    Oh my! I didn’t answer the comments here on this recipe post – instead I answered each person via their website!

  3. parisbreakfast
    parisbreakfast says:

    simply gorgeous and I LOVE the angular sides of the pear!
    I much prefer fruity desserts after a heavy or any meal – the acid cleanses the palette don’t you think?
    BRAVO Jill (again)

  4. Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen
    Hester @ Alchemy in the Kitchen says:

    Jill, my screen disappeared mid comment so if I’m repeating myself, that’s why. Happy New Year lovely lassie and what a way to kick it off with such a beautiful elegant dessert. They must be queuing round the block for invites to dinner at Chez Colonna. You’ve pre’pear’ed a stunner and I love how you ‘pear’ed these unusual flavours.

    p.s. I laughed when I ready your magic porridge pot comment – that’s exactly what I had in mind!

  5. Kim - Liv Life
    Kim - Liv Life says:

    I’m with you on “pearing” done the calories!! It’s been a season of eating with abandon, and my waistline is showing it. Pears have been one of my favorite fruits since I was little, but it’s only been recently that I’ve started putting them into desserts. This one would be a treat!
    Happy New Year to you and your family Jill!!!

  6. Tina@flourtrader
    Tina@flourtrader says:

    This does look like an awesome dessert, the flavor combo just has me so wanting to taste this. I am so glad we became friends this year. After seeing all your posts, I can truly say that I can pick up anything at the grocery store and you would be able to create something spectacular with a perfectly flavored pairing of a macaron. I have learned much from you and I can’t wait to see what you bring out in 2012!

  7. Sissi
    Sissi says:

    I could certainly do with such a light and attractive dessert tonight! I wish I had pears or at least the courage to go out and buy them 😉 Of course I don’t even mention macarons. They are perfect with everything.
    I am in awe of Anne-Sophie Pic, especially given her professional career before she took on her father’s restaurant. I have almost bought the book you mention and then finally I had the one with her restaurant’s recipes (of course I haven’t made a single one, but I had expected so: it was a book to admire and read, not necessarily to cook from!). I hope I will go to taste her delights one day…
    Happy New Year, Jill! (I love the Scottish saying! I imagine how beautiful it would sound with the lovely rolled “r” )

  8. Amalia
    Amalia says:

    A light dessert is definitely what I need! This looks so beautiful and sophisticated, not to mention delicious! That pear look so good, especially with that chocolate ganache and mocha macarons. I mean it doesn’t get any better than that, seriously! Thank you for the gorgeous dessert, I hope you have a wonderful New Year 🙂

  9. Amy
    Amy says:

    Hi Jill! This whole dish sounds amazing! The poached pears alone would be wonderful, but add in the macaroons and I am in heaven! Love the combination of flavors you have here. Best wishes to you in the New Year!

  10. Liz
    Liz says:

    Oh, yeah, I am so ready for some lighter desserts! Your poached pears are stunning…and perfectly paired (lol or peared) with another delicious macaron! Happy New Year to one of my favorite foodies!

  11. Parsley Sage
    Parsley Sage says:

    Oh yes. I’m usually unbuttoning my pants on the ride home to keep from making CK pull over for my greedy-inner-pig. But…it always just.so.good!

    Lovely poached pears, darling! My mind is a little blown with the coffee-pear coupling. Intriguing!


  12. Magic of Spice
    Magic of Spice says:

    Poached pears and coffee?! How delightful and how gorgeous! I always favor a light dessert and these are perfect, as well as are your macarons 🙂
    I hope you had a lovely holiday and wishing you a fantastic 2012!

  13. Terris@ Free Eats
    Terris@ Free Eats says:

    This dessert is gluten-free heaven Jill! Absolutely elegant and sophisticated while still being approachable. Always love what you are doing here! Happy New Year and thanks for sharing another lovely series of photos and a great recipe. 🙂

  14. Claudia
    Claudia says:

    You are so right – I am sated. It was with great happiness that I washed the now-empty cookie tins and put all away for a year. Enough! But I am still searching for a sweet occasionally – but don’t want the thuds! This is a beauty – love working with pears and have these tiny, flavorful pears that would also pair well…(tee hee). Thanks for the shout-out, Jill and wishing you the happiest New Year!


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