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  • Pomegranate-Poached Pears with Vanilla Creme

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  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
    Zest of 1/2 orange, finely grated
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/4 cup dried cherries
    1/4 cup raisins
    1 cinnamon stick
    8 whole cloves
    8 whole black peppercorns
    5 to 6 (about 3 pounds) Bartlett or Bosc pears
    3/4 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
    1/2 cup chilled heavy cream
    1/4 cup sliced and toasted almonds, for garnish
    1/4 cup chocolate shavings, for garnish
    In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the pomegranate juice, orange zest, sugar, dried fruit and spices with 2 cups water. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, then reduce heat to medium-low and keep warm.
    Peel the pears and cut them in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and cores. As each pear is prepped, lower halves into warm poaching liquid. Cook fruit for 10 to 15 minutes, until it is nearly tender. Remove pan from heat and allow pears to cool in poaching liquid. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
    When ready to serve, place the yogurt in a medium bowl. In a separate bowl, use a whisk to whip the cream into stiff peaks. Fold cream gently into yogurt; refrigerate until ready to use.
    Strain poaching liquid, reserving cherries and raisins for garnish; discard cinnamon stick, cloves and peppercorns. Heat 1 cup poaching liquid in a small saucepan over high heat for about 4 minutes, until it has reduced to 1/4 cup and thickened to a syrup. Cool to room temperature.
    To serve, cut each pear half into thin slices that are still connected at the top. Fan pear halves on individual plates, then spoon about 11/2 tablespoons of creme alongside. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon syrup and sprinkle with the almonds and chocolate shavings. Reserved raisins and cherries can be used to garnish the plate. Serve immediately.
    Makes 10 to 12 servings.
    — Recipe adapted from pastry chef instructor Stephen Durfee at the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in St. Helena, Calif.
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