Red Wine-Poached Pears
Serving poached pears on a bed of sweetened mascarpone cheese elevates this simple autumnal dessert to the sublime. Be sure to choose a hearty red wine that you would enjoy drinking, which will make all the difference in the finished dish.
- 1/4 cup mulling spices
- 4 firm but ripe Bosc pears
- 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) full-bodied red wine, such as
Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1 1/2 cups (12 fl. oz./375 ml) water
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) orange juice
- 1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) sugar
- 1 cup (8 oz./250 g) mascarpone cheese
- 1 Tbs. honey
- 1 tsp. grated orange zest
- 1 cup (3 oz./90 g) assorted dried fruit, such as figs, cherries
Put the mulling spices in a stainless-steel spice ball or wrap in cheesecloth and tie closed. Cut a round of parchment paper to fit the diameter of a saucepan; set the paper aside.
Using a vegetable peeler, peel the pears almost to the top. In the saucepan over medium heat, combine the wine, water, orange juice, sugar, pears and spice ball. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then reduce the heat to low. Press the parchment round directly onto the pears and liquid. Cover and simmer until the pears are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
While the pears are poaching, in a bowl, stir together the mascarpone cheese, honey and orange zest. Set aside.
When the pears are finished poaching, remove them from the pan using a slotted spoon. Add the dried fruit to the poaching liquid and simmer on low heat until the fruit is plump and tender, 5 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the fruit from the pan and increase the heat to medium-high. Bring the liquid to a boil and cook until slightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes.
Cut the pears in half and scoop out the seeds with a melon baller. To serve, spread an equal amount of the mascarpone mixture on each of 8 small plates. Top with the pear halves and dried fruit and drizzle with the reduced poaching liquid. Serves 8.
Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen