Ripe pears poached in a red wine and brown sugar syrup, flavored with cinnamon, vanilla bean and star anise, served with a delicate orange blossom mascarpone cream. This dessert is so easy to make, delicious and packed with bold flavors; this simple yet elegant dessert is the perfect way to end any dinner.
Step 1: Prepare the Ingredients
Ingredients (for 4 servings):
for the poached pears:
- 4 large pears, or 5 medium pears (I used William pears)
- 1 cup caster brown Demerara sugar – 200g
- 2 cups semi dry red wine – 480ml
- 2 cups water – 480 ml
- 1 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla bean
for the mascarpone cream:
- 115g mascarpone cheese (8 Tbsp)
- 1 Tbsp honey
- ¼ tsp orange blossom water
- a medium saucepan
- a bowl
- a cutting board
- a sharp knife
- a vegetable peeler or a vegetable knife
- a homemade parchment paper lid (a parchment paper square and scissors)
- tsp = teaspoon
- Tbsp = tablespoon
Step 2: Prepare the Poaching Liquid and the Pears
Whenever I’m making poached pears, I’m using the following rule: for every pear I use 1/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup of wine and 1/2 cup of water.
Prepare the poaching liquid
In a medium saucepan combine the wine with water and sugar and bring to a boil over medium heat. Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds using a knife or a spoon.
Add to the saucepan the vanilla seeds and the seeded vanilla bean, cinnamon stick and star anise.
Let the poaching liquid simmer for 5 minutes to infuse.
Prepare the pears
Cut about 1 cm off from the bottom of the pears (to give them stability while plated).
Peel the pears carefully using a vegetable peeler and leave the stem intact.
Note: You can also scoop out the seeds using a small melon baller (exactly like I did in this recipe), but I personally skip this part almost every time.
Step 3: Prepare the Paper Lid and Poach the Pears
The parchment paper lid (also known as "cartouche") is used to control the rate of evaporation. The parchment paper lid is basically a parchment paper circle with a small orifice in the middle. The lid should be slightly larger than the saucepan’s circumference.
After the poaching liquid has been simmering for about 5 minutes, reduce the heat to minimum, place the pears in the saucepan and cover them with the parchment paper lid.
Gently poach the pears for 20 – 30 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a knife (the time depends on the ripeness of the pears). Use a spoon to turn the pears over every 5 minutes. When they are tender, remove them from the heat and let them cool down in the poaching liquid for at least 30 minutes (you can make these steps ahead and you can keep the poached pears refrigerated in the poaching liquid up to 2 days).
Step 4: Remove the Pears From the Poaching Liquid and Reduce the Sauce
After at least 30 minutes, place the pears on a platter and leave them aside.
Place the saucepan with the poaching liquid on the stove and simmer over medium-high heat for 30 – 40 minutes, or until reduced by half to a slightly sticky glaze (the glaze will be thicker when cooled).
Step 5: Prepare the Mascarpone Cream
Meanwhile prepare the mascarpone cream by combining the mascarpone cheese with honey and orange blossom water. Stir the ingredients with a spoon until smooth and creamy.
Step 6: The Presentation
Place the pears on dessert plates and top them with 2-3 Tbsp of wine reduction. Spoon 2 Tbsp of mascarpone cream, sprinkle some cocoa powder and garnish with fresh blueberries.
Note: Don't throw away the remaining brown sugar and red wine reduction. Store it in an airtight container, refrigerate it and use it as a delicious syrup for other desserts, from vanilla ice cream and puddings, to choux a la crème and brownies.