The best-quality pears you can get your hands on getting poached in sweetened, fruity and spice-infused red wine until the flesh is soft, yet firm. Then, in all their boozy glory, the drunken pears are served with cold, orange-scented whipped cream.
4 ripe but firm pears – peel neatly, keeping stalks intact
2 cups Merlot
1 orange – some zest grated, and the juice extracted
⅓ cup sugar
1” stick of cinnamon
1 cup double/ whipping cream
1-2 tbsp icing sugar
A little vanilla bean – scraped
1. Combine the dry red wine, orange juice, sugar and the spices in a saucepan, over medium heat. (Reserve the grated zest for use in the whipped cream.) Keep stirring as we want the sugar to dissolve in the wine, instead of caramelizing.
2. Once the sugar dissolves completely, increase the heat to high, bringing the wine to a boil. In the meanwhile, try making the pears stand on a plate. If they keep falling, cut a thin slice off their bottoms to flatten them, and try again.
3. When the wine starts boiling, reduce the heat to low and gently lower the pears into it. (We don’t want pear flesh to disintegrate in wine. The fruit has to be lightly poached in the liquid.) Cook for 20-30 minutes. The pears should soften but remain firm. (They should hold their shape together.) Now you need to switch off the heat and pour the contents of the pain into a bowl. Let them come to room temperature.
4. In the meanwhile, whip the cream with a tablespoon of sugar and vanilla, until soft peaks form. Taste to check for sweetness and add the remaining sugar if required. Sprinkle orange zest, and refrigerate until serving time.
5. Once the contents of the bowl attain room temperature, refrigerate them too. This would help in firming up the pears further, and the flavours to marry.
6. Remove the pears in wine sauce from the refrigerator and let it stand for a while before serving. Plate onto four individual plates and serve each with large dollops of orange whipped cream.
1. You don’t need to use caster/ superfine or icing sugar as suggested by many recipes. Granulated sugar is going to dissolve in wine, upon the application of heat quickly.
2. Grate only the orange ‘skin’ of the peel, not the bitter white pith that makes up most of the peel.
3. Don’t use a too large saucepan as a larger surface area would mean that the pears wouldn’t get fully ‘immersed’ in the wine.
4. Don’t beat the cream too stiff. It should remain thick & comforting, and that’s the whole point.
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