red-wine poached pears & vanilla marscapone cream

You are thinking, really? A pear? A poached pear? That’s what you want to propose as a Thanksgiving dessert? Not only am I proposing it, I will predict that you will move this dessert into your personal dessert hall of fame, you will make it and serve it over and over because it is do-in-your-sleep simple, make-ahead friendly, palate-explodingly delicous with it’s red wine reduced to a syrup that is body-paint worthy, and it’s marcapone cream that puts regular old whipped cream in the forgettable category forever. It is festive and gorgeous with it’s pinot stained pears and Jackson Pollack drizzle. This dessert is simply orgasmic, elegant and everything you want a good fruit tart to be but without the heaviness of a crust.

Start with firm pears, so they can hold up to the poaching and not fall apart. These are rosy Anjou, but any kind of pear will do…just not too ripe.

Use a melon baller or teaspoon to carefully scoop out the core and create a little bowl for the marscapone cream.

In a stock pot, mix up some simple magic. Pour in the whole bottle of red wine, then fill the bottle with water and pour that in too, along with sugar, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and vanilla bean. That’s it. And the pears.

Still not impressed? Still not a believer that this will turn into one of your favorite desserts ever and make your house smell like the waiting room for heaven would? Well, 30-40 minutes later the homely old pears look like this…all dressed up in their burgundy best.

And you’ve already mixed up the Marscapone cream, of course, not wanting to waste any time.

And the vanilla and sugar and cream disappear into the marscapone and make it velvety. You will lick the spoon and swoon.

I put a dollup of this on the plate and lightly place the pear into it, for practical reasons, so it won’t slide around the plate, and for impractical reasons too, so I can get the Marscapone cream going both ways on each bite. The red wine poaching liquid is set back on the heat and reduced 1/8 of it’s total volume, into a syrupy delight, which you get to artistically and madly drizzle over the entire thing. You will lick this spoon, too…and say, OMG.


Red Wine Poached Pears with Vanilla Marscapone Cream

Serves 4 (if each guest has a whole pear) or 8 (if each guest has a half).

4 firm Bosc, Anjou or Comice pears (do not use ripe or soft pears)
1 bottle red wine (pinot noir or other fruity red wine, good quality but not expensive)
1 vanilla bean, whole or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract for poaching liquid plus
½ teaspoon vanilla extract for Marscapone Cream
2 cinnamon sticks
2 bay leaves
2 cups sugar
1 8 oz. container of Marscapone cheese
¼  cup heavy cream or half and half
¼  cup powdered sugar (confectioners)
2 tablespoons butter


1. Peel pears in long strokes to avoid creating a choppy surface to the peeled pair. Cut the pear in half lengthwise. Use a melon baller or small scoop or spoon to scoop out the seeds and core. You are creating a small “bowl” in the pear half that will later hold the marscapone cream.

2. In a large saucepan, bring wine and an equal amount of cold water to a simmer. Split vanilla bean lengthwise and add to wine and water mixture. Add cinnamon sticks, bay leaves and sugar, to taste. Add pears to liquid and simmer for about 20-35 minutes or until tender but not too soft. Remove the pears from the liquid and cool. (If making ahead, hold pears in poaching liquid, removing the cinnamon, vanilla and bay leaf. Cool the liquid and pears down to below 70 degrees, then store in airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Remove pears from liquid and bring to room temperature, then proceed with the rest of the procedure to finish the dish.)

3. Remove the cinnamon, bay leaves and vanilla bean from the wine mixture. Continue to simmer and reduce the liquid until you are left with only ¼ the original volume and the liquid left is a thickened syrupy consistency. Be sure not to over-reduce or burn the syrup.

4. While the wine mixture is reducing, combine in a small bowl the mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, pinch cinnamon, vanilla extract and powdered sugar until smooth.

5. Add butter to reduced wine syrup and stir until combined. To serve, place a small dollup of the marscapone cream on a dessert dish. Place a poached pear half on top of the dollup which acts as a “glue” to keep it from sliding on the plate. Then fill the “bowl” of the pear with a generous amount of marscapone cream. Spoon or drizzle pear with red wine syrup. Serve. (Optional: drizzle with Chocolate Ganache also…see recipe attached.)

Chocolate Ganache Drizzle

5 oz high quality 60% cocao bitter-sweet chocolate chips
1 T. Port Wine or Brandy or other flavored liquor (Amaretto, Grand Marnier, etc.)
2 T. unsalted butter
2 T. heavy cream or half and half, warmed

In a double boiler or a stainless steel bowl over a simmering water bath, combine chocolate, port (or brandy) and butter. Melt over barely simmering water, stirring constantly. Add warmed cream and incorporate into melted chocolate. (Do not add it cold…it will sieze the chocolate. If that happens you can add hot water, slowly to the chocolate, stirring constantly, until it becomes the desired “sauce” consistency.) Allow to cool to room temperature and use squeeze bottle or spoon to drizzle over ….anything!







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