Pears are one of my favorite fruits, so this time of year makes me smile. Poaching them brings out their tender sweetness. Serve them warm for a lovely treat during blustery autumn nights.

Poached Pears with Hazelnut Date Topping

1/2 cup hazelnuts
4 dates
1/2 tsp cinnamon

3 pears (I used Bosc and Red Anjou), halve and core, leave skin on
3/4 cup apple or pear juice (you may not need all of this)
sea salt
2 tsp kuzu
1/4 cup water
1/8 tsp vanilla

1.  Lightly toast the hazelnuts at 300° for about 8 minutes or until they start to turn light brown and smell toasty. Remove from oven. Let cool a bit and then remove as much of the skins as possible. Coarsely chop or grind in a food processor. Transfer to small bowl.

2.  Cut the dates into small pieces. Add dates and cinnamon to the bowl of hazelnuts. Stir to combine, making sure the date pieces and cinnamon are distributed evenly. Set aside.

3.  Lay the pear halves cut side up in a skillet big enough to fit them snugly in one layer. Pour enough of the apple juice in the bottom to reach 1/2 inch up the sides of skillet. Add a pinch of sea salt to the liquid. Turn the heat to medium and bring the liquid to a boil. Turn heat down to simmer and cover. Let poach for about 10 minutes or until a fork pokes easily into the pears. Time will depend on type of pear used. You want the pears to still retain their shape, so don’t cook to the point that they are falling apart. Carefully remove pears to a large plate.

4.  Pour the pear cooking liquid into a measuring cup and add more juice to equal 3/4 cup. Pour back into skillet and turn the heat to low medium.

5.  In a separate bowl, mix kuzu and 1/4 cup of water. Make sure the kuzu is dissolved and then whisk into the liquid already in the skillet. Continue whisking until mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Transfer to a small serving dish.

6.  Transfer each pear half to a serving plate. Sprinkle with hazelnut topping and drizzle with sauce. Serve warm.

Alternate serving suggestion is to cut the pear into bite size pieces and layer with the hazelnut topping and sauce into individual glass dishes.