Baked vanilla pears with chocolate “butter” (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

Home-grown Comice pears. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

I’ve had a very “light” pear harvest this year. In fact, just 4 fruit developed on one tree and the other had no fruit at all. Not sure why, the spring was fine, there was so much blossom and plenty of bees around to pollinate it. Perhaps the pear trees decided to have a bit of a holiday this year.

Just before harvest. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

So with such a precious harvest, what to cook? I picked the pears a couple of weeks ago, and they have been ripening gently and slowly in a cool spot in the kitchen. They remained quite firm, so I decided I would cook them.

Vanilla baked pears with chocolate “butter”. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

Vanilla is one of my favourite spices, and it is a particularly delicious flavouring for pears. This is a very simple recipe, but it tastes a little bit more special because the pears are cooked in Moscatel de Valencia – the floral notes of this sweet Spanish wine are a perfect match for both pears and vanilla.

Chocolate is another “must have” with pears as far as I’m concerned, and this easy “butter” makes an interesting alternative to the usual chocolate sauce. Moscatel is one of the few wines I think goes well with chocolate, so this is a “win win” recipe for me. Serve the pears very slightly warm or at room temperature so that the cooking juices don’t  begin to set, and avoid chilling the chocolate accompaniment (unless the room temperature is very warm) as it will become very hard to spoon.

Serves: 4


  • 4 firm pears
  • Juice of ½ a lemon
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 300ml Moscatel  de Valencia wine (or white grape juice if preferred)
  • 1 tbsp. agave syrup (or clear honey if you eat it)
  • 40g dairy-free margarine (or unsalted butter)
  • 100g dairy-free 85% cocoa chocolate
  • 50g golden syrup
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan oven, gas 4). Peel and core the pears, and cut in half. Brush lightly with lemon juice and place cut-side up in a shallow baking dish.
  2. Split the vanilla pod and scoop out some of the seeds using the tip of a sharp knife. Push the rest of the pod into the dish of pears, mix the scooped-out seeds with the wine and pour over the pears.
  3. Dot the pears with 15g of the margarine and drizzle with agave syrup. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove the foil, turn the pears over, baste with the cooking juices, and return to the oven to bake, uncovered, for a further 20 minutes or until the pears are tender.
  4. Cool for 30 minutes in the cooking juices, discard the vanilla pod, then lift out the pears using a slotted spoon and place in a heatproof dish. Pour the cooking juices into a small saucepan.
  5. Bring the cooking juices to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes until reduced by half. Pour over the pears and leave to cool.

    Preparing baked pears with vanilla. Images: Kathryn Hawkins
  6. For the chocolate “butter”, break the chocolate into pieces and put in a saucepan with the remaining margarine and the golden syrup. Heat very gently, stirring, until melted. Remove from the heat, mix well and pour into a small, heatproof dish. Leave to cool – the “butter” will solidify when it becomes cold.
    Making chocolate “butter”. Images: Kathryn Hawkins

    Serve the pears at room temperature accompanied with the chocolate “butter”. If you prefer, leave the chocolate mixture to cool for about 30 minutes and serve warm as a thick, glossy chocolate sauce.

    Vanilla baked pears with chocolate “butter”. Image: Kathryn Hawkins

4 thoughts on “Baked vanilla pears with chocolate “butter” (gluten-free; dairy-free; vegan)

  1. Hello Katheryn, sounds lovely. I brought large gifted pears back from France – pics or on my twittter feed- and made Blushing Pickled Pears. So many Pears on our area Dept 86 La Vienne. 30 mins Nt to Poitiers. Pears were huge and we had been given locally made flavoured vinegars too.

    So I used the Red Pepper vinegar one with the cider vinegar we use for our business. Mixed the two – approx 250ml of. Bottled vinegar with same amount of cider vinegar and water & sugar brought to a gentle simmer with star anise, vanilla pod,slices of fresh ginger, 6 cloves and a piece of cinnamon. Strained it. Then added in the peeled sliced pears ( pieces too as had to cut away bruised bits! ) brought to boil and simmered for approx 20 mins until cooked but still firm. Lift out aand keep.

    Now reduce the syrup by boiling – approx 5 mins. Pear pieces into warmed sterilised jars and pour over the hot sugar syrup to cover. Lids on a leave – it says for 1 month.

    Colour is already changing. Recipe called for Raspberry vinegar – didn’t have any! They tasted lovelyand are good with duck, Christmas meats , cheeses and pates. So, recipe says. I usually dry any vanilla pods and put them in my caster sugar jar!

    . Jean

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jean. Thanks for sharing your pear recipe with me; I have pickled pears once before, and you’re right, they are delicious with cold cuts after Christmas. Hopefully next year I will have a better pear harvest and I’ll have another go at pickling them. By the way, it’s easy to make raspberry vinegar by just popping a handful of berries in a bottle of white wine vinegar or white balsamic vinegar (for a super-sweet vinegar). After about a month, you’ll have a lovely pink, fruity vinegar to use 🙂


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