Poaching pears in their own alcohol, perry, makes sense – and I'm not sure why I never thought of it before Matthew Fort kindly gave me the idea. You can serve these pears with clotted cream or ice cream, or with blackberries and blackberry rippled cream.
4 firm pears
A small piece of cinnamon stick
6 black peppercorns
2tbsp caster sugar
A couple of handfuls of blackberries (optional)
Clotted cream or ice cream, to serve
Peel the pears, leaving the stalks intact, and cut a thin sliver off the base of each one so they will stand upright.
Put the perry, cloves, cinnamon stick, peppercorns and caster sugar into a saucepan and add the pears.
Lay a piece of greaseproof paper over the fruit. Bring to a simmer and poach gently for about 45 minutes until the pears are soft but still holding their shape. Lift out the poached pears, using a slotted spoon, and set aside on a plate.
Continue to simmer the liquor in the pan until it has reduced by about two-thirds and thickened. Return the pears to the liquor and leave to cool.
To serve, stand each pear in a deep serving plate and spoon over the reduced liquor. Add a few blackberries, if you are using them, and a scoop of clotted cream or ice cream, or indeed blackberries combined with cream.