Is there anything more festive over the holidays than a beautiful fruit dessert with a tipsy twist? I think not! These pears, while secretly easy, are sure to impress this holiday season. They look so special and fancy (and I bet your guests have never had a rum-poached pear!), but they come together in less than half an hour.
Everything about this dessert is so perfect for the holidays. Pears are such a classic seasonal fruit, maple syrup is a total holiday delight, pecans and cranberries scream holiday, and spiced rum brings it all together. This recipe contains a dessert and sauce all in one, so it does double-duty without having to dirty an extra pan. I can't wait for you to try these!
Don't Worry, They're Easy
I know the name may sound intimidating, but this dish is actually quite easy to make. You'll start by cutting the pears in half and scooping out the cores with a melon baller. Pro tip: you'll also want to slice a tiny bit off the back of each pear so they'll lay flat. Then you'll just poach them in a skillet with a delicious cocktail of rum (my favorite Kaua'i Spice rum from Koloa, of course!), apple cider, maple syrup, and just the right about of salt to create a dreamy sweet/salty balance. The pears will cook quickly; about 5-10 minutes on one side, flip them over, and another 5-10 minutes on the other side. Easy!
The real magic of this recipe is that the poaching liquid for the pears cooks down and becomes the perfect sauce! During the time the pears are cooking, the sauce is slowly reducing, resulting in a decadent sweet elixir that has the texture of maple syrup. How many other recipes allow you to make the dessert itself AND the sauce all at the same time in one skillet??
My biggest tip is to keep an eye on the sauce as it cooks down. If it starts to get too thick too quickly, just add another splash of apple cider. Make sure it doesn't burn! Conversely, if you feel like the pears are cooked before the sauce is thick enough, just remove the pears and continue cooking the sauce until you're happy with it. The cooking times will really depend on the ripeness of your pears, so just keep an eye on both elements and be ready to adjust your approach accordingly.
Make Them Yours
There are lots of ways you can switch up this special holiday dessert. Feel free to garnish the pears however you like; I've shown cranberries and pecans here, but you could use walnuts, dollops of cranberry sauce, or whatever else you think brings a holiday vibe to this dish. You can also serve them with ice cream (vanilla? caramel??) and/or whipped cream to take them over the top.
Good news: this recipe works great as a make-ahead holiday dish. You can cook the pears up to two days in advance; just store them in the fridge in a tightly sealed container, and store the extra rum sauce separately. When ready to serve, reheat and assemble. Easy, right?? When I host, I love knowing that dessert is taken care of and won't require much prep on the day of the event. (Although that said, these are so fast that making them ahead is hardly even worth it).
Let's Talk Ingredients
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Pears. This recipe will work best with firm, crisp pears that feel slightly under-ripe. Using under-ripe pears ensures that they can stand up to the cooking time without becoming too soft.
Spiced rum. I love the Kaua'i Spice rum from Koloa so much, it's such a favorite in our house both for cocktails and for desserts.
Flavorful, flaky sea salt. I'm smitten with fleur de sel! Use something flaky (rather than with big crystals) so that it's not too crunchy.
Toppings. Optional, but a few special toppings really makes these shine. I suggest cranberries and pecans for some freshness and crunch. You can also use vanilla ice cream, caramel ice cream, whipped cream, etc.
One final thought. In my opinion, pears don't get enough love. During the fall, everyone is all about apples and pumpkin. It's always pumpkin this, pumpkin that, apple pie everything. But what about pears?? I'm especially partial to pears because we have a couple very prolific pear trees in our yard, but I really do think they're under-appreciated. They have such a beautiful, floral flavor, and have a level of succulence (especially when cooked in rum... swoon!) that apples have a hard time achieving.
Tipsy pears definitely belong at any holiday celebration, don't you think?? These pretty little pears feel so special, can be dressed up however you like, and are secretly so quick and easy to make. I hope you'll invite them to all your holiday meals this season!
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
Disclosure: This recipe has been developed through a paid partnership with Koloa Rum. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Rogue Brussel Sprout running.
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Cut the pears parallel to the stem so that you end up with two symmetrical halves.
From the cut side, remove the core and seeds using a melon baller. From the non-cut side, cut a small slice off the back so that the pears will sit flat without rolling.
Place the pears in a small (10’’) skillet. Add the rum, cider, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt.
Cook the pears for 5-10 minutes at a low simmer, then flip them over and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Continue poaching the pears until they are tender (but not soft) and until the liquid has reduced to create a thick, flavorful rum sauce.
NOTE: If the liquid reduces before the pears are fully cooked, add a splash of additional cider (or water) to prevent it from caramelizing too far. Conversely, if the pears are done before the sauce has sufficiently thickened, just remove the pears and keep cooking down the sauce. The cooking times will vary based on the ripeness of your pears.
Transfer the pears to a serving dish, cut-side facing upward. Pour the remaining rum sauce over the pears.
Garnish with your favorite holiday toppings including nuts, cranberries, ice cream, whipped cream, etc.