A welcome light dessert that’s ideal after all the rich holiday menus: Poached Vanilla Pears are served in a puddle of coffee sauce. If feeling extra decadent, serve with mocha, coffee or chocolate macarons.

poached pears in coffee sauce bowl with macarons

Light Pear Desserts

When entertaining the French, it took me a few years to work out that menus need to be planned carefully; if I’m serving a large main course after an amuse-bouche (something small to tickle the tastebuds before the meal) then starter/hors-d’oeuvres – and then it’s followed with an ambitious taste-of-the-regions cheese board – it can be difficult keeping up when a heavy finale to the meal is served. I used to love doing that and soon learned quickly.

The French could have a crise cardiaque (heart attack) if they see a large pudding arrive, piled high on their plate and since they’re polite, they wade through it and suffer in silence. I’m now the same. Have you ever had that feeling of just being so stuffed that you’re kicking-yourself-for-being-so-greedy uncomfortable?

Vanilla Coffee Poached Pears

French Chef Inspiration

For light dessert inspiration, I pounced straight away on Anne-Sophie Pic’s French cookbook, Recettes Pour Recevoir. The Michelin-starred chef has put together her cooking lessons for ideal recipes aimed at entertaining. What I loved about her poached pears in blackcurrant and vanilla was that she uses a lot of poaching liquid, which makes it so much easier to make this recipe a success, as the pears should be poached completely in the liquid without any little bit sticking out.

Moreover, it’s a perfectly light and chic end to a meal. It can also be beautifully peared (sorry!) with macarons.

half a poached pear sitting in a puddle of coffee sauce

Developing the Recipe

That would definitely keep my French friends happy. But I can’t just copy a recipe from a cookbook. I had to make my own version that’s easy to make at home with less of the steps. So, I inversed the flavours: her side-dish of a fondant au café and vanilla tuile was replaced by a tutti-frutti blackcurrant macaron (see p.83 of Mad About Macarons!) and the blackcurrant poaching sauce was replaced by a coffee sauce. My first try. The result was a dessert totally gluten-free (however, if you do love gluten like me, then make the tuiles from my 2nd book, Teatime in Paris!)

Macarons are great for accompanying desserts, since they can be made a few days in advance (or even frozen and taken out the freezer 1 hour before serving at room temperature) so you can stay zen while preparing the rest of the meal.

Serve with chocolate-coffee macarons (simply add 2 tbps of granulated coffee to the heating cream while making your classic chocolate ganache. Recipe on page 47 of Mad About Macarons!)

Add Cardamom to Coffee – Great with Pears!

This recipe can easily be adapted to suit different flavours. For example, with coffee, we love some spice.

So add the bruised seeds from 4 cardamom pods to the coffee poaching liquid, remove, and serve with chocolate, cardamom & ginger macarons (see page 56 of Mad About Macarons!)

poached coffee vanilla pears

poached pears in coffee sauce bowl with macarons

Poached Coffee Vanilla Pears

Author: Jill Colonna
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course : Dessert
Cuisine : French
Servings : 4 people
Calories : 208kcal


An easy yet elegant dessert that just happens to be healthy and also gluten free. Serve with macarons for the ultimate treat!


  • 150 g / 5oz sugar
  • 1 litre 34 fl oz water
  • 1 vanilla pod/bean cut lengthways
  • 2 tbsps coffee granules
  • 4 large firm pears Conference, Williams, Comice


  • Boil the sugar with the water, vanilla and coffee in a heavy based casserole dish or saucepan with a lid. Once boiling, turn down the heat.
  • Peel the pears and cut them in half horizontally. Place them completely in the syrup and poach them gently with lid on for 20 minutes.
  • Drain the pears using a slotted spoon, set aside and chill.
  • Boil up the coffee syrup for about 20 minutes until concentrated and thickened.
  • I usually place the leftover coffee syrup in a jam jar, sealed in the fridge. Over the next few days, just heat it gently and pour over ice cream.


Serve with chocolate-coffee macarons (simply add 2 tbps of granulated coffee to the heating cream while making your classic chocolate ganache. Recipe on page 47 of Mad About Macarons!) Or infuse the bruised seeds from 4 cardamom pods to the coffee poaching liquid, remove, and serve with chocolate, cardamom & ginger macarons (see page 56 of Mad About Macarons!)

From the market

From the kitchen

30 responses to “Poached Vanilla Pears with Coffee”

  1. This looks a lovely recipe and I look forward to trying it – does it keep well if chilled overnight (i.e. can I prepare it a day in advance)?
    Thank you!

    • Hi Sara,
      Yes, it will keep fine if chilled overnight. No problem. Let me know how you like the recipe. Bon week-end.

  2. Poached Pears in Wine (Easy 3 Ingredient Recipe) - Christina's Cucina says:

    […] Poached Coffee Vanilla Pears […]

  3. Coffee syrup and pears? What a wonderful combination of flavors! Yes, a light dessert that’s not overly sweet and cloying is just perfect after a large meal. Yet another one of your delicious concoctions that I’ll need to put on my ever-growing list of what to make! 🙂

  4. Oh my! I didn’t answer the comments here on this recipe post – instead I answered each person via their website!

  5. What a GORGEOUS dessert dish Jill! Looks like restaurant plate, seriously! I love this sophisticated dessert after a great meal. It will surely complete the meal without disappointment.

  6. Happy Happy New Year! Your photos are beautiful. Poaching fruit is one things that scares me to death. I have yet to try it so it might just all be in my head. This is inspiring.

  7. I love poached pears and the mocha macarons sound like such a wonderful accompaniment. Yummy! 🙂

  8. i’ve always been a pear-lover and since I start baking I loved adding them to desserts. Even if it’s not baked, poached pears do make me drool.
    Happy New Year Jill! Wish you all the best!

  9. OMG!
    simply gorgeous and I LOVE the angular sides of the pear!
    I much prefer fruity desserts after a heavy or any meal – the acid cleanses the palette don’t you think?
    BRAVO Jill (again)

  10. Jill, my screen disappeared mid comment so if I’m repeating myself, that’s why. Happy New Year lovely lassie and what a way to kick it off with such a beautiful elegant dessert. They must be queuing round the block for invites to dinner at Chez Colonna. You’ve pre’pear’ed a stunner and I love how you ‘pear’ed these unusual flavours.

    p.s. I laughed when I ready your magic porridge pot comment – that’s exactly what I had in mind!

  11. These looks so divine! I love poached pears and I will have to try making macaroons soon, it’s on the to do list for 2012! Happy New Year!

  12. This sounds so nice. How could anyone not eat all of it? I haven’t yet poached my own pears, they always look so good when they’re done and with coffee, what a nice change.

  13. This look absolutely amazing..and I love pears!!!
    I wish you fantastic New Year, full of joy and happiness!!!!

  14. I’m with you on “pearing” done the calories!! It’s been a season of eating with abandon, and my waistline is showing it. Pears have been one of my favorite fruits since I was little, but it’s only been recently that I’ve started putting them into desserts. This one would be a treat!
    Happy New Year to you and your family Jill!!!

  15. This does look like an awesome dessert, the flavor combo just has me so wanting to taste this. I am so glad we became friends this year. After seeing all your posts, I can truly say that I can pick up anything at the grocery store and you would be able to create something spectacular with a perfectly flavored pairing of a macaron. I have learned much from you and I can’t wait to see what you bring out in 2012!

  16. I could certainly do with such a light and attractive dessert tonight! I wish I had pears or at least the courage to go out and buy them 😉 Of course I don’t even mention macarons. They are perfect with everything.
    I am in awe of Anne-Sophie Pic, especially given her professional career before she took on her father’s restaurant. I have almost bought the book you mention and then finally I had the one with her restaurant’s recipes (of course I haven’t made a single one, but I had expected so: it was a book to admire and read, not necessarily to cook from!). I hope I will go to taste her delights one day…
    Happy New Year, Jill! (I love the Scottish saying! I imagine how beautiful it would sound with the lovely rolled “r” )

  17. Absolutely gorgeous dessert! what a lovely flavor combination. Happy New Year Jill! P.S. I LOVE your book.

  18. A light dessert is definitely what I need! This looks so beautiful and sophisticated, not to mention delicious! That pear look so good, especially with that chocolate ganache and mocha macarons. I mean it doesn’t get any better than that, seriously! Thank you for the gorgeous dessert, I hope you have a wonderful New Year 🙂

  19. Hi Jill! This whole dish sounds amazing! The poached pears alone would be wonderful, but add in the macaroons and I am in heaven! Love the combination of flavors you have here. Best wishes to you in the New Year!

  20. Oh, yeah, I am so ready for some lighter desserts! Your poached pears are stunning…and perfectly paired (lol or peared) with another delicious macaron! Happy New Year to one of my favorite foodies!

  21. You poached the pears in coffee! How cool! I’ve poached pears in pureed strawberries mixed with wine, but never coffee. SUCH a great idea!

  22. Oh yes. I’m usually unbuttoning my pants on the ride home to keep from making CK pull over for my greedy-inner-pig. But…it always!

    Lovely poached pears, darling! My mind is a little blown with the coffee-pear coupling. Intriguing!


  23. Poached pears and coffee?! How delightful and how gorgeous! I always favor a light dessert and these are perfect, as well as are your macarons 🙂
    I hope you had a lovely holiday and wishing you a fantastic 2012!

  24. This dessert is gluten-free heaven Jill! Absolutely elegant and sophisticated while still being approachable. Always love what you are doing here! Happy New Year and thanks for sharing another lovely series of photos and a great recipe. 🙂

  25. I love, love, love this recipe. You are so right… I can barely look at heavy sweets right now. I would be overjoyed if this came to the table after a long meal.

  26. I’m ready for a salad or two and lots of fruit, yes. This is definitely a good way to start! I love the idea of poaching pears with coffee, especially since I adore coffee (raising my mug to you). Happy New Year, Jill!

  27. I *love* vanilla poached pears, but with coffee? Man, I’d die for this! Looks fantastic and subtle and all kinds of wonderful!

  28. You are so right – I am sated. It was with great happiness that I washed the now-empty cookie tins and put all away for a year. Enough! But I am still searching for a sweet occasionally – but don’t want the thuds! This is a beauty – love working with pears and have these tiny, flavorful pears that would also pair well…(tee hee). Thanks for the shout-out, Jill and wishing you the happiest New Year!

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