Non-alcoholic poached pears with New Orleans bitters, brownie & vanilla whipped cream

super easy


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The holidays are rapidly approaching which is usually when I’m most creative when it comes to new recipes. Poached pears are very common in Belgium as a Christmas dessert but I honestly never made it myself. It’s most commonly poached in red wine, but my non-alcoholic version uses New Orleans bitters with some extra orange and lemon. Being pregnant of course means not consuming any alcohol but even before I didn’t really drink often. You could also cook the pears with this non-alcoholic red wine but I wanted to go for a very light syrup for this recipe as it’s being peared (hehe) with brownies and whipped cream which already make it a quite heavy dessert.

It’s very easy to make but you do need to use the right pears. If they are already too soft they’ll just turn to mush when you poach them. If they are unripe they will not be very pleasant to eat even after poaching them. I prefer conference pears myself as they don’t require a long cooking time and hold their shape well. Note that you can replace the sugar with honey or maple syrup.

You can get the New Orleans bitters here:



Adjust Servings
5 ripe pears
1l water
200g cane sugar
1 lemon (juiced)
1 orange (juiced)
3tbsp New Orleans bitters
165g unsalted butter
165g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
3 eggs
315g caster sugar
2tsp vanilla extract or 20 g vanilla sugar instead of 2 tsp extract)
135g plain flour
45g cocoa powder
1/2tsp sea salt
1/2tsp baking powder
250ml fresh cream (not light)


Preheat the oven to 190°C
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For the brownies
Melt the chocolate and butter at low heat. Once melted set aside for 5-10 min. to cool.
Meanwhile mix the eggs with half of the vanilla (the other half is for the whipped cream) and the caster sugar. Slowly add the chocolate-butter mix after it has cooled down.
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Mix the flour, cocoa powder, sea salt and baking powder in a bowl.
Gradually add it into the rest of the brownie mix and set your mixer to low speed.
Once combined, add it to a lined tin (+- 20cm square) and bake for 25-30 min.
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For the pears: Put the water in a large pot
Add cane sugar, lemon, orange and bring to a boil until the sugar has melted. Add the New Orleans bitter. If you can't smell it after adding 3 tbsp, add more (1/2 tbsp at a time).
Meanwhile peel the pears. You can slice the top and bottom off (so that it's flat and the pear can stand up) if you wish but you can also do this later.
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Reduce the water to a simmer
Add the peeled pears. Cook for 20 minutes and gently turn the pears regularly. When you roll them around you should also be able to tell if they are getting too soft. Depending on the size and ripeness they may be done sooner.
Once they are done, take them out of the liquid. You can keep them in the fridge after they have cooled down and then reheat them in the oven when ready to serve but it is of course best to serve them right after poaching. Don't throw away the liquid either, it should have now turned into a syrup which we'll spoon over the pears on the plate.
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For the whipped cream:
Whip the cream along with the vanilla sugar. Avoid turning it into actual whipped cream, just make sure it's a thick cream - like a custard basically.
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Plate up!
You can either just cut up the brownie into squares or crumble it up like I did. Then add a dollop of the cream on it and put a pear on top. Drizzle a tablespoon of the syrup over the warm pear and enjoy.
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