Rosemary Poached Pears

October 20, 2009

A few weeks ago someone emailed me asking if I had any good “plain” parve pound cake recipes. I wasn’t much help since I had never made a parve pound cake, but it did make me realize I needed to remedy that situation. I tend not to make simple cakes like pound cake, which is a shame because they can be delicious satisfying desserts that don’t take all day to make.

Doing a search of Epicurious I came across this recipe for cornmeal pound cake with rosemary poached pears. I knew that this was the recipe I needed to try. I have a bag of fresh cornmeal that came directly from the mill and I have been trying to find great uses for it. Also I have been a bit obsessed with herbs in my desserts, so I was intrigued with the idea of rosemary poached pears. Basil is my new favorite ice cream flavor. Seriously. And no, I am not crazy. It is absolutely delicious with lemon macerated strawberries. Just ask David Lebovitz.

Well, the dessert was both a success and a failure. The pears were amazing. The rosemary flavor is subtle and gives them an intriguing flavor that makes you want to savor each bite. I will absolutely be making these again. The pound cake, however, was a complete failure. It came out of the pan exactly the same size it went in, hardly rising at all. It tasted like very dense overly sweet cornbread rather than tasting like cake. I probably did not beat it for long enough, but I wonder if using margarine instead of butter was part of the problem too. We also didn’t like the relationship of the cornmeal flavor with the pears, the cake flavor overwhelmed the pears in a way that didn’t quite work.

I plan to keep experimenting with parve pound cake until I get it right, but if anyone has a tried and true parve pound cake recipe please share. Until then, here is the recipe for the pears.

Rosemary Poached Pears (from

3 cups water
2 cups sugar
1 cup dry or off-dry Riesling
3 fresh rosemary sprigs
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
8 Forelle pears or other small pears, peeled, stems left intact
Combine the first 6 ingredients in large saucepan. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Add pears and bring syrup to boil, turning pears occasionally. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until pears are tender, about 20 minutes. Chill the pears uncovered in syrup until cold, at least 3 hours.
Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep chilled.

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