This sexy holiday dessert will have everyone talking!
Whether you need a show-stopping, sophisticated dessert or just want something easy you can make ahead of time for a special holiday dinner these Spiced Red Wine Poached Pears with Vanilla Mascarpone Whipped Cream are the solution. Red wine poached pears have got to be the quintessential holiday dessert! Love that they’re on the light side, too!
Wine-poached pears–whether in red wine or white wine–are a classic, French preparation that doesn’t require an Escoffier degree. Serving them only makes you look like you attended a French culinary school!
Bosc (or Kaiser) pears are ideal for poaching because they keep their shape when cooked, however, any pear that is not overly ripe can work. Pears are the perfect ripeness for poaching when they yield slightly to pressure but are still firm. Look for pears that are free of blemishes as having to remove them can affect the appearance.
When peeling them for this dish, work in long, even strokes to avoid a choppy or uneven appearance. A vegetable peeler works perfectly. You also want to be careful not to bruise them.
It’s important to periodically turn the pears while they’re poaching to ensure even cooking and a consistent ruby-red color. You also want to turn them occasionally while they’re cooling in the red wine mixture because they continue to soak up the mixture.
I served with a simple vanilla mascarpone whipped cream. For less work, gently heat them back up in the poaching liquid and serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Oh, and a quick etiquette tip…. Be sure to give your guests both a fork AND a spoon to enjoy this dessert–a fork to help secure the pear and the spoon to eat it with.
If you have any pears left over, serve them on a salad such as my Winter Greens with Poached Pears, Butter and Turbinado Toasted Almonds, Blue Cheese and Balsamic Vinaigrette.
20 minPrep Time
35 minCook Time
55 minTotal Time
3 cups dry red wine (such as cabernet or merlot)
1/2 cup sugar
1 long strip orange peel (1 by 4-inch)
1 large orange, juiced (about 1/2 cup)
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
2 firm, ripe Bosc pears
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
3 tablespoons mascarpone cheese
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Combine wine, sugar, orange peel, orange juice, cinnamon stick and cloves in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.
While poaching liquid is simmering, peel pears, leaving the stem intact and being careful not to bruise the pears. Slice a small amount from the bottom of the pears to create a flat bottom if necessary so the pears stand upright.
Gently place the pears in the poaching liquid. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-30 minutes (depending upon size), turning every 5 minutes with a slotted spoon to ensure even color. Pears should be cooked but still firm. Cool at room temperature, turning occasionally to ensure even color.
When the pears have cooled to room temperature, refrigerate in the liquid at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours, turning occasionally.
To serve: Remove pears from poaching liquid and place on serving plate. Strain poaching liquid and place back in saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook until reduced by at least half. Liquid should be slightly syrupy. Let cool to room temperature. Drizzle pears with sauce and serve with Vanilla Mascarpone Whipped Cream.
Combine cream, mascarpone, sugar and vanilla extract in a small, deep bowl. Beat until thick and the consistency of whipped cream, about 5-7 minutes. Serve with pears.