Poached pears are so yummy and tender and infused with flavor that they are great all by themselves, but they are even better with chocolate sauce. Add in some fancy whipped cream flavored with the poaching liquid and you have a great, make-ahead dessert everyone will enjoy. You may even be able to mark it down as ‘slightly healthy’ since it does contain fruit. That’s how it works, right?
A little while ago I was thinking about what I wanted to post in December, and I knew I wanted to add a fruit dessert to the list. And that fruit dessert needed to be one that was a little different while also being great for a holiday dinner. The sort of thing I would make for Christmas Eve or New Year’s. Once I had my mission in mind, I pulled out my old files and found this recipe again. It’s based on a recipe from Food and Wine and I think I first made it soon after it was published, so over 15 years ago! It’s a great recipe and one that is worth making again and again. 🙂
Though the basics of the recipe have remained the same, I have made a few changes. Not many since it was pretty darn good already, but a few. I like to use pear halves instead of fussily hollowing out whole pears and piping cream down the middle. Who has time for that? And I don’t like my chocolate sauce too sweet so I’ve turned to bittersweet chocolate instead of semisweet.
Once I had decided on the recipe the only thing to do was to poach the pears (which is when I found out that holding them overnight in the fridge is a bad idea), and decide how to take the pictures. Luckily, I have this great set of dishes that I got from my Noni many years ago. I don’t use them often but their beautiful, deep pink/cranberry coloring certainly provides that holiday feeling I was looking for here. And there are about 8 different sizes of plates and bowls in the set, including these adorable teeny ones that are perfectly sized to hold half a pear.
– Happy Eating, Annemarie
- 4 pears, firm but ripe
- 1 cup white wine
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- peel of ½ an orange
- peel of ½ a lemon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
- ½ cup mascarpone
- ½ cup heavy cream
- ½ cup heavy cream
- 3 tbsp cocoa power, dutch process cocoa if you have it
- 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- Peel the pears and then split each one lengthwise down the middle. Carefully scoop out the seeds and cores of the pears.
- Combine the wine, water, sugar, orange and lemon peels, cinnamon stick, and vanilla in a saucepan just large enough to hold the eight pear halves. Bring the wine syrup to a boil over high heat, then lower the heat so the syrup is just barely simmering. Add the pears and poach them in the syrup for 12-15 minutes, depending on how ripe your pears were. Check them with a knife to see if they are tender all the way through. Once they are, remove the pears from the syrup with a slotted spoon and let them cool.
- Bring the syrup back to a boil and cook it down until the the syrup thickens and comes to 220F on a thermometer. This will take 10-12 minutes. Strain the syrup into a bowl and refrigerate until chilled.
- To make the mascarpone cream: With a mixer, beat together ½ cup of the chilled syrup with the mascarpone. Set that aside. Pour the cream into a large bowl and beat with the mixer on high until you have stiff peaks. Add the mascarpone to the the cream and beat it together. Put the mascarpone cream in the fridge until you are ready to use it.
- To made the chocolate sauce: Combine the chopped chocolate and cocoa powder in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan until boiling. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for about a minute, until the chocolate is softened. Whisk together the chocolate and cream until smooth. Mix in the vanilla.
- To assemble: Spoon out some chocolate sauce into the middle of each plate. Place a pear half on top of the chocolate. Spoon mascarpone cream in the middle of each pear and then drizzle more chocolate sauce over the top.
Stiff peaks are when you stop the beaters and pull them up and the little peaks you get from the cream don't fold over at all. Be careful, though. It's easy to go from stiff peaks to overly whipped cream. Stop and check frequently when you think you are getting close.
Adapted from Poached Pears with Mascarpone Cream and Chocolate Sauce by Food&Wine.