Holiday Edition: Spiced Wine-Poached Pears with Mascarpone

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I’ve been waiting to make these spiced wine-poached pears, literally for months since I first had them on an amazing trip to South Africa. I decided Christmas Eve dinner was the perfect opportunity to serve them.  On top of being simple, elegant and extremely fragrant, I love the idea of serving poached pears to offset all the chocolate and cookie-eating my family does this time of year.  It’s nice to have something on the lighter side.  I also love these because whatever doesn’t get finished during dessert can be used to pour over pancakes or waffles the next morning.

I used Food 52’s  Red Wine Poached Pears recipe. It was a great recipe but too sweet for my taste, so I’ve adjusted it slightly. I also added cloves which really upped the spice factor. And though  I didn’t think of it until after, I could have added some knobs of fresh ginger left over from my holiday cocktail which would have been lovely.

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Serves 6

  • 4 cups red wine ( inexpensive, medium-dry wine)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • Peels from 2 oranges
  • 1 whole orange (without peel)
  • 10 -12 whole cloves
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • A small handful of thyme
  • 6 firm but ripe pears, peeled, stems left intact
  1. After removing the skin from 1 orange, pierce the orange with the cloves, making sure they are well fastened.
  2. Combine everything except for the pears in a large, heavy saucepan. Stir over medium heat until the sugar dissolves and the mixture begins to simmer. Add pears, and bring everything back up to a simmer.
  3. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer slowly until pears are tender when pierced with knife, about 25 minutes. (But start checking at 20 minutes! Depending on the ripeness of your pears, this could take slightly less or more time.)
  4. Transfer pears to a plate or platter. Boil liquid in saucepan until reduced to 3 cups, about 20 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead — just cover and chill pears in the poaching liquid.) Before serving, rewarm over medium-low heat until pears are heated through, or simply serve them at room temperature.
  5. Serve with vanilla ice cream or mascarpone cheese.

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