Here’s how the weeknight dessert conversation goes at my house:
Halfway through dinner, one or both children will ask whether dessert is being served that evening.
Almost every night, I point to the obvious bowl of seasonal fruit in the center of the table and cheerfully say (as if I had just discovered it myself), “We have fruit for dessert!”
…which is, of course, met with shoulder slumps and disappointed frowns.
My kids, ages 6 and 3, actually love fruit and hardly leave any for my husband and me most nights. But we all know what they really want – this time of year, apple pie cookie bites, pumpkin snickerdoodles, and creamy pumpkin ice cream all sound pretty amazing!
Honestly, I want them too!
But sugary desserts are a slippery slope if there ever was one, so I try to be really good about reserving them for weekends and special occasions. So when I can offer something that’s still completely healthy but tastes more like a “real” dessert, everyone’s happy!
These easy Crock Pot Poached Pears with cinnamon and walnuts are the perfect healthy dessert for busy fall weeknights!
Easy, Affordable Crock Pot Poached Pears
These pears look and taste elegant, but are actually insanely easy to make and very affordable too!
Simply peel your pears and place them in the slow cooker with some apple juice and cinnamon sticks. Cook for an hour on high or two hours on low, and you’ve got the juiciest poached pears with the lightest hint of fall spice. The smell alone will have everyone running to the dinner table!
Once the pears finished cooking, I took the extra step to transfer the cooked juice to a saucepan to reduce it down by a third or so, but I really think you could skip this step if you’re short on time. For extra flavor and crunch, I also tossed a few chopped walnuts into the juice before ladling it onto plates. (I definitely wouldn’t advise skipping this!)
Now for the cost.
We’re hitting the peak of pear season, so I was able to find both Green Anjou and Red Anjou pears for just under a dollar per pound. These were quite large, so each pear served two people. With only two other frugal ingredients, the cost per serving was less than a dollar!
- 4 large (or 8 small) pears, any variety, skin peeled, bottom cut flat (so pears will stand up straight when served), and with stems on (this looks pretty but also makes them much easier to handle with tongs)
- 1 cup apple juice
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- Pour juice into the bottom of the Crock Pot.
- Lay pears on their sides in the juice, then add cinnamon sticks.
- Cover and cook on high for an hour or on low for two hours, opening the lid halfway through cooking to turn pears to their other side.
- Use tongs to transfer pears to plates.
- Pour juice through a fine mesh sieve into a saucepan. Add cinnamon sticks and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Allow to boil for about 15 minutes, or until volume is reduced by about a third to a thin syrup consistency. (I dipped a clean toothpick in before boiling, noting how high the juice came up on the pick. As the mixture boiled down, I would insert another clean toothpick and compare the height of the boiled juice to the original pick)
- Once juice is reduced to a thin syrup, remove from heat and stir in the walnuts.
- To serve, place pears on plates (1/2 of a large pear or 1 whole small pear), then ladle syrup and walnuts over them.
Additional Recipe Notes
This recipe is very simple and can be adapted for fewer or different ingredients. The pears could be poached in water for a milder flavor and a couple of dashes of ground cinnamon could replace the sticks if you don’t mind the flecks of ground spice showing on the flesh of the pears when you serve them.
For a summer dessert, I think these would be good poached in pineapple juice and without the cinnamon…but we can talk more about that in about eight months.
Whatever ingredients you use, try to keep the stems intact – if one falls off, use a rounded spatula to turn the pairs midway through cooking and to transfer to the plate before serving. The flesh is super soft once cooked and a metal spoon is likely to take a chunk out of the fruit…there’s a reason why only two of my pears are pictured! 😉
- Pears: $5.20
- Apple Juice: $0.25
- Cinnamon Sticks: $0.40
- Walnuts: $0.31
The total cost for eight servings of these easy poached pears is $6.16. That’s only $0.77 per serving!
And one additional pricing note – I find that cinnamon sticks are much cheaper in the bulk bin section at my local grocery store than on the spice aisle. If you can’t find an affordable price on them where you live, substitute a couple of dashes of ground cinnamon.
What are your favorite healthy weeknight desserts?
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