It's the time of year for resolutions, most of which we'll stick to for at least a few weeks before abandoning. Two common resolutions are to eat healthier and lose weight.
For many people this means forgoing dessert. However, that is a difficult thing to do, and I for one don't have that kind of willpower. For me, a day without dessert is a punishment.
Luckily, there are desserts that can fit into a healthier eating style and will satisfy your sweet cravings without loading you up with fat and tons of calories. One of my favorites is poached pears.
You can poach pears in nearly any liquid, from water to fruit juice to wine (both white and red work equally well). I like using wine, because you can use up those partially empty bottles that remain after a dinner party (unusual in our house, but sometimes it happens). Wine's antioxidant properties also help in sticking to the healthy eating plan.
There are many varieties of pears that can be used. I typically use Bartlett or Anjou, but Comice, Bosc and Seckel pears also work well. You want the pears to be firm so they don't fall apart when cooked, but not completely unripe. I find that two to three days at home in the fruit bowl allows sufficient ripening.
In addition to being high in antioxidants and fiber, this dessert is quite easy to make. It does take a little time, but it's mostly hands-off time that requires little attention. How long the pears take to cook is quite variable and depends both on the variety and ripeness. Check after 10 minutes to gauge how quickly they will soften.
Although the accompanying recipe calls for red wine, feel free to use white wine. I'd omit some of the spices if using white wine, though. Just a touch of cinnamon, a squirt of lemon juice and a bit of vanilla, stirred in at the end, will do.
It doesn't get much better than this - a tasty dessert that doesn't leave you feeling guilty.
Darcie Boschee's occasional column Bakin' n' Bacon, which was featured on The Charleston Gazette's food page, now resides in the Sunday Gazette-Mail. Reach her at bosch...@yahoo.com. For more of her recipes, visit her blog, bakin-n-bacon.typepad.com.
Red Wine Poached Pears
6 medium pears (firm but nearly ripe)
3 cups red wine (merlot or pinot noir are good choices)