Last week, a huge box showed up at my door bearing…(wait for it) tons and tons of goat cheese. For a chèvre lover like myself, this felt very much like a fantasy, especially since it happened to be from Cypress Grove, the Northern Cali cheesemaker behind my favorite Humboldt Fog selection. Anyway… I knew I had to get cooking to make sure that none of this delicious cheese went to waste, so I started dreaming up ideas for appetizers to make this holiday season. Now, in my book, there are a few qualifications for a “perfect” appetizer for entertaining this time of year. First, it needs to feel special and indulgent: this is the holidays after all. Second, it needs to be incredibly simple to prepare. With all the multitasking required to get a meal like Thanksgiving on the table, the last thing I need to be dealing with is an appetizer that needs a lot of my attention. And last, it should include ingredients that reflect the season’s bounty. Enter pears, cranberries and vanilla bean. Although poached pears are a classic holiday dessert, I really love their natural sweetness paired with creamy goat cheese, and presented on a tray with bread and crackers for sopping up the syrupy goodness, they become a gorgeous first course. I poached these with a mixture of honey, vanilla beans, orange juice and lots of fresh cranberries for holiday color. One bite of these, and soon I devoured an entire Sunday lunch of pears and cheese… not that I’m complaining. Keep reading for the recipe and cheese pairings.

Pears and goat cheese are amazing on their own, but poaching the pears with honey and spices brings out a sweetness that borders on indulgent. Other pears and cheese combos that I love? On a panini served next to butternut squash soup…in a quesadilla drizzled with a bit of honey… haven’t tried them on a pizza yet, but I think it has potential.

I tried these with a few different Cypress Grove cheeses; all were good, but I think the winner was the “Purple Haze” mixed with fennel and lavender.

Serve each pear with the cranberry syrup spooned over the top on a “mini cheese plate” with crackers and goat cheese…

…or split them open and plate them with a dollop of goat cheese on each pear half.

Cranberry Poached Pears with Goat Cheese

*these would also be great for dessert, served with a bit of creme fraiche!


  • 8 small pears, peeled (I used Seckel)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • zest of 1 orange
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries (optional)
  • soft goat cheese (not crumbled)
  1. Place pears in a saucepan large enough to hold them snugly. Add sugar, orange zest and honey. Using the tip of a paring knife, scrape vanilla seeds into pan, and toss in pod. Add enough water to barely cover the pears. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Reduce heat, and simmer gently until pears are tender, about 8 minutes.
  2. Add fresh cranberries, and simmer until cranberries are soft but not mushy, about 3 minutes more.
  3. Use a spoon to transfer pears to a dish. Spoon cranberries and syrup around pears. Add dried cranberries. Let cool for 15 minutes. Cover, and refrigerate overnight, or serve at room temperature.
  4. Before serving, remove vanilla bean. Transfer pears to plates with some of the cranberries, syrup, cheese and crackers or bread.
*images by Camille
**recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Living

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Comments (14)
  1. 1
    karin November 13, 2012 at 6:57 am

    Interesting idea, but I rather use our local Austin goat cheese Pure Luck here…..

    • Camille Styles November 13, 2012 at 7:16 am

      Pure Luck is also amazing… And its creamy texture work beautifully with the pears!

  2. 2
    Yelle November 13, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Oh yes! Purple Haze by Cypress Grove is my favorite cheese at the market. I always make sure to have it when entertaining guests so that I may introduce them to some heaven!

    • karin November 13, 2012 at 7:56 am

      now I am so darn hungry, I’ll be off to Central Market……

  3. 3
    Katie Meyers / Meyers Styles November 13, 2012 at 8:47 am

    Camille – this looks divine, not to mention the festive colors are perfect for the holidays! I’m hosting a few parties this year & this has officially made its way to the top of the list for apps. (And, as always, great photos too!)

    • Camille Styles November 13, 2012 at 9:52 am

      Thanks Katie, you’re going to love it. I served the leftovers to my book club, and they were a huge hit. Let me know how it goes!! xo

  4. 4
    Love This Life November 13, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Yum!! We love goat cheese so I’ll have to try this. Very creative!

  5. 5
    invitation consultants November 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    looks dreamy!

  6. 6
    Erin (@LawStudentsWife) November 13, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    A box full of goat cheese?? BEST PACKAGE EVER! I actually have done a goat cheese + pear + arugula flat bread that was to die for. Your suspicions are correct!

  7. 7
    twistandshout4u November 13, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    Looks delish! I’m afraid I could make a meal of it too!! 😉

  8. 8
    natashamlawler November 15, 2012 at 7:50 am

    What a beautiful and perfectly seasonal appetizer and not nearly as time consuming as so many are!