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Poached pears with poached, spiced figs

Poached pears with poached, spiced figs
Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Alchemists have tried for centuries to transform base metals into gold -- unsuccessfully, at least as far as we know. But it's a lovely concept: Take the common and uninspiring -- lead, copper, prunes -- and change it into something ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes | Serves 6

Poached, spiced figs

  • 1 1/2 cups fruity red wine (Zinfandel, for example)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 6 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 (1- by 3-inch) strip orange peel
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 1 whole clove
  • 2 allspice berries
  • 1/2 pound dried Calimyrna figs

Step 1Bring all the ingredients but the figs to a simmer in a nonreactive saucepan. Add the figs and cook them at a very slight simmer until they are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, 30 to 40 minutes, depending on the figs.

Step 2Remove the figs to a container with a slotted spoon, raise the heat, bring the syrup to a boil, and reduce by one-third. Pour it over the figs and chill. Keeps for 1 to 2 weeks.

Poached pears

  • 6 firm ripe pears, such as Bosc or Anjou
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 (1- by 2-inch) strips lemon peel
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half
  • 1/3 cup Poire William (pear brandy, optional)

Step 1Peel the pears, leaving the stems on. Core them with an apple corer, then slice a bit off the bottom so they cook upright. (Alternatively, you can halve them, remove the stems and core them.)

Step 2Bring 4 1/2 cups water, the sugar, lemon, vanilla and Poire William (if using) to a simmer in a large saucepan, then add the pears. Cook, covered, until the pears are tender but not mushy -- 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the ripeness of the pears.

Step 3When the pears are done, remove them from the poaching liquid and boil the remaining liquid until reduced by half. Pour the syrup over the pears and chill.

Step 4To serve, divide the poached pears among 6 bowls, and spoon one-sixth of the poached figs over each.

Note: The poached, spiced figs are adapted from Chez Panisse Desserts by Lindsey Remolif Shere.


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