Baked Vanilla Yoghurt With Hibiscus Poached Pears
If you have never had baked yoghurt before I strongly recommend it. It tastes like a cross between panna cotta and cheesecake filling. It’s rich, creamy and sweet. Not overpowering in sweetness though. The sweetness is balanced with the slight tanginess of the yoghurt. The combination of all the flavours makes it the perfect creamy dessert that goes really well with roasted or poached fruit.
When we moved back to Canada from Trinidad last year in June, one of the things I made sure to bring was a pack of dried sorrel mix. Sorrel in Trinidad refers to roselle which is a species of Hibiscus. It’s quite tart and like other species of hibiscus, stains anything that gets steeped with it or married with it a brilliant pink to red tone. It’s wonderful and vibrant. In Trinidad the sorrel packs are filled with dried roselle flowers and some lovely fragrant spices and commonly made into a drink. Check my recipe for this drink and more on what the flowers look like on the blog.
I knew I would miss the sorrel season as I would be in Canada so I stocked up on a few packs. I just flew back from Trinidad after a whirlwind 6 day trip and I promised myself that I would remember to bring back more but I totally forgot, so I’m totally kicking myself for forgetting. We will likely have to go back soon so it will be high on my list of things to get while I’m there.
Something so sweet and rich as this baked yoghurt deserves a slightly tart and fragrant accompaniment. That is how these hibiscus poached pears came about. The hibiscus gives them this deep yet vibrant red hue which also looks wonderful with the baked yoghurt. It makes for an exquisite looking dessert that looks like hours was spent on it when it only took minutes to prep.
Don’t be too intimidated when it comes to coring the pears. Coring them is optional and more instructions can be found below on other ways to prep them to make your life easier. I like my poached pears to be slightly boozy so I added some red wine to mine but that isn’t necessary if you wanted to keep them non alcoholic. A friend of mine suggested using sorrel or hibiscus port wine instead of regular red wine and I thought that would be genius and add even more of that sorrel flavour to them, so if you can get your hands on something like that, definitely sub the red wine out for it. Feel free to use any sweetener to poach them with, and adjust sweetness to taste. I didn’t overly sweeten them because I was serving them up with this sweet and rich baked yoghurt. If you were serving them with a creme anglaise or a just with a simple dollop of whip then you may want to sweeten them further.
This is such a tasty dessert and those beautiful hibiscus poached pears make it quite the show stopping dessert. I call this a Winter Panna Cotta because it’s baked and delicious and really and truly goes with any fruit you would like to add to it. It’s a hit at home as we are all lovers of yoghurt in our house and also because it is so darn simple to make and turns out delicious every time. Can’t recommend it enough. Hope you try it - I know you’ll love it!
Makes 1 shallow 9 inch pie/tart dish or 4 small to medium ramekins
- 2 cups full fat Greek style yoghurt
- 1 cup (1 x 380gm) condensed milk
- ¼ cup milk powder (I used powdered coconut milk)
- 2 tbsp of heavy cream
- ½ tsp finely grated zest of an orange
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Pre-heat the oven to 350°F
- In a bowl combine all of the above ingredients and whisk well until very smooth and combined.
- Pour into a wide flatish ceramic or cast iron oven proof dish or 4 ramekins.
- Place the dish in a high sided roasting tray and fill the tray with hot water to approx ½-¾ of the way up the sides creating a water bath
- Bake for 40 minutes until starting to turn golden and set and then turn off the oven and allow to cool completely. If I make it at night I just leave it in the oven over night, otherwise remove it from the oven and take it out of the water bath and allow it to cool to room temperature.
- Cover and refrigerate until cold and serve. This can be made the day before.
Hibiscus poached pears
- 1 cup dried hibiscus flowers* contents of two hibiscus tea bags
- 2 whole star anise
- 5 cardamom pods
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 5 cloves
- ⅓ cup honey or maple syrup or sugar (more to taste)
- Peel of one orange
- 1 litre water
- ½ cup of wine or more of you want it boozy
- 6 small to medium firm pears, peeled and cored, leaving stems on**
- In a large pot, place the hibiscus flowers, spices, honey and water.
- Bring to a boil on medium heat and simmer for 10 minutes, so that all the flavours infuse into the water.
- Add the prepared pears and poach at a very low simmer for 20-25 minutes, turning the pears frequently for an even colour, until tender but not too soft (a well poached pear should be easily sliced & eaten with just a spoon. The poaching time will vary depending on the ripeness of the pears).
- Take the pot off the heat and leave the pears to cool in the poaching liquid, turning them occasionally.
- Remove the pears from the liquid onto a plate, strain the liquid (don’t throw it away!) & discard the hibiscus flowers and spices.
- Serve the pears at room temperature or warm with baked yoghurt and some extra poaching liquid spooned on top. I also topped mine with some chopped pistachios for a little crunch. If you prefer a thicker syrup to drizzle over the pears, return the poaching liquid to the pot after straining it and simmer until reduced to desired consistency.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. They are great for breakfast over your warm oats or your yoghurt breakfast bowl. Any leftover reserved poaching liquid can be used in cocktails or drinks.
* Dried Hibiscus flowers or petals can be found in spice shops or health stores. If you cannot find the whole flowers or petals, you can use 2 hibiscus teabags.
** To core the pears while keeping them intact, you can use a melon baller to scoop out just the part of the core that has the seeds in it. You can use a corer and a small knife or sharp-edged spoon as well. If you are too worried about ruining the pears, you can skip this step and poach them whole with the core and just remove it as you eat. Another option is to halve the pears lengthways and scoop out the core from each half, then poach the halves (you will need to reduce the cooking time by 10-12 minutes as they will poach a lot faster this way).