I found some pretty red pears on sale (which is often the case in late fall and winter) and decided to poach them in red wine for some sort of dessert. I found a great recipe on the Epicurious website, where the poached pears were paired with vanilla ice cream – elegant yet so simple!
I was lucky to find ripe red pears at the store, but, as I mentioned in a 2011 post on Pear and Bleu Cheese Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette, if you cannot find ripe pears, that’s okay – they are one of the few fruits that do not ripen well on the tree. Place firm, unripe pears in a paper bag at room temperature for a couple of days. To check for ripeness, gently press the neck of the pear – when it gives in to gentle pressure it’s ready to eat. Once a pear is ripe, it can be refrigerated for four to five days.
I tinkered some with the recipe from Epicurious by reducing the amount of granulated sugar and adding some brown sugar in its place. I also added a vanilla bean and used fresh mint as a garnish. You may notice in the ingredients photo bottled orange juice, but I was able to squeeze half a cup from the orange used for the zest. You should try this too, as fresh is always better!
Ingredients (4 servings)
- 1 cup sugar
- ¾ cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons orange zest
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 cinnamon stick
- ½ vanilla bean, cut in half lengthwise
- 1 bottle (750 ml) red wine
- ½ cup orange juice
- 2 cups water
- 4 red pears (firm but ripe)
- Vanilla ice cream
- 2 chocolate or almond biscotti, crumbled
- Orange peels (optional)
- Fresh mint (optional)
Place the sugar, brown sugar, orange zest, cardamom, cinnamon and vanilla bean in a large pot.
Add the wine, water, and orange juice, and heat until the sugar dissolves, stirring constantly.
Once the mixture starts to simmer, add the pears. Simmer until the pears are fork tender, about 15-20 minutes.
Remove the pears and bring the wine mixture to a boil. Boil until it has reduced to 3 cups or so – you want the mixture to thicken and be syrupy.
Place a warm pear on a plate with a scoop of ice cream. Sprinkle with some of the biscotti crumbs, and garnish with the orange peels and/or mint.