Steal the show with this light and delicious AGA dessert.
4 ripe, firm cooking pears
175ml (6 fl oz) white wine
2 tbsp port or full-bodied red wine
500ml (18 fl oz) water
150ml (5 fl oz) clear honey
A thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 vanilla pod, or ½ tsp vanilla bean paste
1. Place the wine, port or red wine, water, honey, ginger and vanilla into a stainless steel AGA pan that will hold the four pears snugly. Bring to the boil on the boiling plate and then transfer to the simmering plate to reduce for five minutes while you prepare the pears.
2. Peel the pears using a swivel peeler, leaving the stalks intact and cutting in half lengthways. Use a teaspoon to scoop out the core and pips. Remove the centre strip of fibre from the centre using a sharp paring knife.
3. Place into the hot syrup and turn so that all surfaces are bathed to prevent discolouration. Cover with a circle of baking parchment and place a tea plate on top to keep the pears submerged during poaching.
4. Cover and transfer to the floor of the simmering oven for 20-30 minutes until tender but still firm. Remove from the heat and leave to cool in the syrup for 15-30 minutes, until the flesh meets only gentle resistance when tested with a skewer. Lift out using a slotted spoon into a serving bowl.
5. Return the pan, uncovered, to the boiling plate and boil strongly for 10-15 minutes until reduced by half and noticeably syrupy. Remove the ginger and discard and remove and rinse the vanilla, if using, and dry for flavouring sugar for baking. Leave to cool and pour over the pears and chill well before serving with lightly-whipped double cream to hand.