Christmas Poached Pears

Having lived in Germany for a few years, where glühwein is synonymous with Christmas, mulled wine flavours are forever associated with the festive season in my mind.

So, if you’re looking for a fabulous pudding that’s the perfect contrast to the heavy richness of traditional Christmas pudding then give this delicious recipe a try.  It’s so easy make and has the added bonus that it can be made in advance and simply stored in the fridge – definitely the sort of recipe you want  at this busy time of year.

This is the perfect pudding for Christmas eve or Boxing Day, when you want flavours that are still Christmassy but aren’t going to compete the with the flavours of the main event.

Most poached pear recipes call for copious amounts of sugar and vast quantities of expensive dessert wine.  This recipes still tastes absolutely delicious but uses much less sugar.  Better still, it also leaves more of the wine for drinking!  But don’t be mislead into thinking that this recipe doesn’t deliver on flavour – despite its apparent simplicity it really is a fabulous pudding.  Indeed, this is a dessert to make throughout the Autumn and Winter period when pears are at their best in the shops.

The poached pears are delicious simply served with a crisp biscuit and some ice-cream, pouring cream or crème fraîche.  However, if you want to make this pudding even more decadent try adding some hot chocolate sauce.

It’s important to use firm/slightly under-ripe pears as ones that are too ripe will start to disintegrate during the cooking process .  The recipe serves 4 but can easily be doubled – or more – if you’re catering for larger numbers.

Christmas Poached Pears

Serves 4

2 large firm/slightly under-ripe pears (or 3-4 smaller ones)

200ml fruity red wine (I like to use Merlot)

40g granulated sugar

finely grated zest and juice of 1 medium orange

1 star anise

1 piece of stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped


  • Put the wine, sugar, zest and orange juice into a medium-sized saucepan and heat until the sugar has dissolved, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, peel and core the pears, cutting them into equal-sized wedges.
  • When the sugar has dissolved, add the pears and star anise to the saucepan.  If there isn’t enough liquid to cover the pears, just top it up with a bit of water.  Turn the heat down  and cover with the lid, then leave to simmer over a low heat for about 30 minutes until the pears have softened (test by piercing with a sharp knife).
  • Remove the pears and star anise to a serving dish with a slotted spoon.  Add the chopped stem ginger to the liquid in the saucepan.  Turn the heat up and allow the liquid to bubble away (without a lid) until it has reduced to about half.  Pour over the fruit and allow to cool.

Note: if you don’t have a fresh orange, you can substitute 50ml of orange juice and 1/2 tsp of orange extract.

Click on the link Christmas Poached Pears for a printer friendly version of the recipe.