Baking with Costco: Budget Grocery Tip

A recent trip to Costco netted more than just a case or two of paper towels and more dog food than our 10-lb “miniature” daschund could ever eat in her lifetime. No, Costco has expanded its baking section to include a variety of higher end items at decidedly lower end prices. We scored: a 16-oz bottle of Kirkland Signature pure vanilla extract for $5.99, Kirkland Signature ground cinnamon for $3.39, and a package of whole vanilla beans for just over $1 each.

So what will we do with all these baking goods? You could make vanilla infused sugar with the vanilla beans. Or make vanilla poached pears – an elegant dessert for a dinner party or any special occasion.

A beautiful presentation with golden syrup drizzled over glossy pears, the dessert only looks difficult. If you can boil water, you can make this surprisingly easy treat.

Use a whole vanilla bean or pure vanilla extract.

Vanilla Poached Pears

photo Drumcpherson.com

You will need:

1 750 ml bottle sweet white wine, such as Demi Sec or Riesling
1 cup water
3/4 cup vanilla infused sugar, or ¾ cup sugar mixed with 1 tsp. pure vanilla
1 whole vanilla bean, split and scraped, or 1 tbsp. pure vanilla
4 firm pears, peeled but with stems intact

To make:
Pour wine, water, sugar and vanilla bean and seeds (or pure vanilla) into a 3 1/2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.

Meanwhile, peel pears and core from the bottom (use a melon baller or a knife). Reduce heat to medium low and add pears. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until pears are soft but still hold their shape. Remove pears and place in a baking dish, standing them upright, and chill in refrigerator.

Remove the vanilla bean (if used) from the saucepan, raise heat to high and boil for 20-25 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to a syrup, which will boil down to approximately 1 cup of liquid. Place the syrup in a heat-proof container and refrigerate until cool.

Remove the pears from the refrigerator and place on plates, drizzle sauce over the pears and serve.

Makes 4 servings