Make Holiday Desserts Without Refined Sugars: Aromatic Pears

<em>SERVES 4</em>
<p>• 4 ripe but firm pears<br />
• 2 tablespoons lemon juice<br />
• 1 tablespoon honey, or to taste<br />
• 1 fresh red jalapeno pepper, cut in half and seeded<br />
• 2 whole star anise<br />
• 1 cinnamon stick, bruised<br />
• 1 lemongrass stalk, bruised<br />
• 1/2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced<br />
• 2 whole cloves<br />
• 4 bay leaves<br />
• 1 1/4 cups water</p>
<p>1.  Peel pears leaving stems intact. Cut a thin slice from bottom of each pear allowing pears to stand. Place in a large bowl and add the lemon juice with enough water to cover the pears.</p>
<p>2. Combine honey  and next 7 ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes, or until the honey dissolves.</p>
<p>3. Drain pears;  add to honey mixture. Bring  to a simmer over medium heat, cover  and simmer 15 to 20 minutes, or until the pears are tender. </p>
<p>4. Remove from the heat; cool pears in syrup. When cool, remove from pan with a slotted spoon, reserving syrup; place in a serving dish.</p>
<p>5. Return the syrup to the heat and bring to a boil. Boil 5 to 8 minutes, or until the syrup is  reduced by half and thickened. Cool 5 to 10 minutes; Remove bay leaves and pour syrup over pears. Serve warm.</p>
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<em>Gina Mohammed, Ph.D., is a plant physiologist who researches medicinal and other specialty uses of plants. E-mail</em>
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<em>or write to 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, KS 66609 for a detailed reference list.</em>
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<strong>Make Holiday Desserts Without Refined Sugars</strong>

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