Vanilla and sherry pears

Revitalise the dinner party classic pears in red wine by flavouring it with a splash of sophisticated sherry and lashings of vanilla instead
By Jenni Muir
Vanilla and sherry pears
  • Rating:
  • Serves: 4-6
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Effort: easy



  • 500 ml water
  • 250 g caster sugar
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 2 tbsp dry sherry
  • 4-6 firm pears

To garnish:

  • 1 tbsp red fruit jam, such as strawberry, raspberry or damson
  • 120-150g fromage frais, or low-fat Greek yoghurt


1. Combine the water and caster sugar in a saucepan and place over a gentle heat. Stir with a metal spoon until the sugar dissolves.

2. Using a small, sharp, pointed knife, split the vanilla pod open lengthways and scrape the tiny black seeds from the pod into the syrup. Add the pod husk and sherry to the pan, then raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, whisking periodically to help distribute the vanilla seeds evenly.

3. Meanwhile, peel the pears. When the syrup has been simmering for 5 minutes, reduce the heat under the pan so that the liquid bubbles only occasionally, and carefully lay the pears in the syrup. Poach for 10 minutes, or until the fruit is tender when pierced with a skewer, gently turning the fruit in the syrup occasionally to ensure even cooking.

4. Gently lift the cooked fruit from the pan and set aside in a warm place. Raise the heat to a boil and boil hard until the syrup thickens slightly and becomes just a little viscous or sticky. Meanwhile, fold the jam into the fromage frais or yoghurt.

5. Lay a poached pear on each serving plate and drizzle with a little of the syrup. Put a dollop of the creamy jam mixture on the side to decorate and serve warm.

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