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Warm Caramelized Pears with Clove Zabaglione

Zabaglione is one of the great desserts of Italy. The ethereal foamy custard sauce is usually made with egg yolks, sugar and Marsala wine. In this recipe, the addition of golden raisins and spices gives it a festive flavor.

Ingredients:

For the pears:

  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
  • 3 Tbs. honey
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 lemon zest strips, each 3 inches long and 1/2
      inch wide
  • 6 Bosc or French Butter pears, peeled, halved
      with stems intact and cored

For the zabaglione:

  • 1/3 cup golden raisins
  • 3/4 cup sweet Marsala wine
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbs. water

Directions:

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

To prepare the pears, in a small bowl, stir together the cloves, allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the Marsala, honey, butter, lemon zest and half of the mixed spices and heat just until the butter melts. Remove from the heat. (Reserve the remaining spices for adding to the zabaglione.) Place the pears, hollow side down, in a baking dish, and pour the Marsala mixture over them.

Bake the pears, basting occasionally with the liquid in the dish and turning them over halfway through cooking, until easily pierced with a knife, 30 to 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and keep warm.

Meanwhile, prepare for the zabaglione: Place the raisins and half of the Marsala in a small saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and immediately remove from the heat. Let stand until cool, about 30 minutes.

About 15 minutes before serving, bring a saucepan half full of water to a gentle simmer. Using a balloon whisk or handheld electric mixer, beat together the egg yolks, sugar and water in a large heatproof bowl. Whisk in the remaining Marsala and set the bowl over the pan of barely simmering water. Do not allow the water to touch the bowl. Whisk constantly until the mixture is thick, frothy, begins to hold soft peaks and no liquid remains at the bottom of the bowl, about 10 minutes. Drain the raisins and discard the Marsala. Fold the raisins and the reserved spices into the zabaglione.

To serve, place 2 pear halves in each individual bowl. Spoon the zabaglione onto the pears, distributing it evenly. Serve immediately.
Serves 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Seasonal Celebration Series, Autumn, by Joanne Weir (Time-Life Books, 1997).