Caramel-Poached Pears Stuffed with Appenzeller and Roasted Hazelnuts
A delicious take on a classic winter dessert, these poached pears satisfy all the senses.
- 6 firm pears
- 6 to 8 ounce Appenzeller
- 1.5 cups packed dark brown sugar
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or 2 vanilla pods, split, and 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Creme fraîche
- 1/2 cup hazelnuts roasted, salted, and chopped
- Core pears using an apple corer to maintain whole shape. Create a plug from each core by cutting off top and bottom and place onto a plate with parchment paper. Discard center core pieces. Use apple corer to cut six cylinders of Appenzeller. Add to parchment-lined plate with pear pieces. Freeze for 3 to 5 minutes until just firm. Peel pears and set aside in cold water to prevent browning.
- Pour 4 to 6 cups water into a large saucepan. Add brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla bean paste. Cover to bring to a boil, then reduce to a rapid simmer.
- Remove chilled cheese and pear pieces from freezer. Stuff one piece of cheese into center of each prepared pear. Add top and bottom pieces back into pears to seal cheese inside each core. Spear a toothpick into each pear widthwise at both top and bottom to secure plugs.
- Add stuffed pears to simmering liquid and cook for 20 minutes, or until pears are tender. Remove cooked pears and set aside on a sheet pan.
- Discard half of poaching liquid and remove cinnamon sticks. Heat remaining liquid over high for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until reduced by half. Add up to 6 tablespoons more brown sugar if necessary to thicken into a caramel syrup. Remove caramel from heat and let set up for about 5-10 minutes, until thick and shiny.
- Serve pears in bowls with caramel syrup, a spoonful of crème fraîche, and chopped hazelnuts.