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Honey Poached Pear with Almond Panna Cotta

                If you have ever listened to my radio show, or read some of my past recipes you would have heard how much I dislike baking. I love desserts. I love eating them and I love watching other people make them. There is just something about baking that makes me uncomfortable. Part of it is probably the fact that I have very little background in it. The other part is most likely that my mother and grandmother scared me so much that I am afraid to stray away from the strict recipe formats. Either way, I still do not partake in baking. As most of my favorite desserts are baked (aside from ice cream) my repertoire is pretty minimal. Then I discovered panna cotta. Last year I ate at a beautiful little Italian restaurant in Washington D.C. called Fiola. After my first Steak Ceviche was terribly done and the Chef overheard my description of it, he remade it himself and it was delicious. Because of my acknowledgment of the quality of the second dish, he bought our wine and dessert. The dessert was the best part of the entire experience. It was a poached pear in panna cotta with a lavender cookie. Finally a dessert that did not require me to bake! It took me over a year to finally make something similar to what I had, but better somehow. I am in no way “tooting my own horn”. I am also still no pastry chef. Yet, again by accident I found a new recipe to put in my leather bound recipe book. Straight from my book to you, here is the no baking required, one of the only desserts in my book, masterpiece of the day.


Poached Pears

2 large Bosc pears, peeled, halved and cored

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 cup water

1/2 cup dry white wine

6 tablespoons honey

1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise


Peal the pears, cut them in half from stem to base, and remove the core and seeds. In a 2 to 3 quart pot combine the water, white wine, and honey. Open the vanilla bean and scrape all the seeds into your liquid mixture and add the bean. Whisk the mixture over medium heat until honey dissolves: Right before simmering.  Add the pears and cover with a lid. Lower your heat to medium low to simmer for 15 minutes. Turn your pears over and continue to simmer for 15 more minutes. Remove the pears from the mixture and cool in the refrigerator. After the pears are cool to the touch, place them in the freezer for 2 hours, and then remove back to the refrigerator to thaw. I honestly do not know the culinary method of this as I am not a dessert aficionado, but when I tried it, it changed the texture of the pear to more creamy like ice cream.


Almond Milk Panna Cotta

2 cups heavy whipping cream

2 cups pure almond milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeded

2 packets powdered gelatin

6 tablespoons cold water


                Heat the heavy cream, almond milk and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar completely dissolves over medium low heat. Once the sugar is dissolved add the seeds from the bean and toss the bean in the garbage. Whisk the cream mixture over medium low heat for 10 more minutes. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water in a medium-sized bowl and let stand 10 minutes. Pour the cream mixture over the gelatin mixture while whisking as your pour. This will prevent you from having any gelatin lumps which taste terrible. After this mixing is done you can pour the mixture in a lightly greased cupcake tin to place on a plate, but I put my in sherry glasses. Wine glasses will also work perfectly well. Evenly pour the mixture into wine glasses. You may have some left over so put it where you like for a midnight snack. Chill the Panna Cotta in the refrigerator for 2-4 hours. Place the poached pear in the glass on top of the Panna Cotta to serve.

Here is a delicious addition to your dessert repertoire, unless you like me and like to cook, then you have one that requires cooking instead of baking!

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