This has to be one of my favourite desserts. It’s not just delicious but also so simple, a five year old can probably make it but really shouldn’t unless you sub the wine for milk or something. The positives don’t end there, this is a relatively healthy dessert thanks to fruit and wine; it has sugar of course because well we do want a dessert to be sweet but you can add as little as 1/3 cup or as much as 1 cup and even then it’s not a whole lot, other than that it has no butter or oil, is egg free, dairy free, gluten free, nut free and possibly other ‘frees’ that I’m missing also it is as sexy as a dessert can be; voluptuous white pears get soaked in and take on the deep colour of sensual red wine perfumed with heady spices and citrus. The deep red colour the pears turn into is gorgeous especially against the white of the fruit as you cut into it.
The pears taste lovely on their own but I like to serve it chilled with some vanilla ice cream and the wine reduction. It’s important that the pears you choose are of a firm variety like packham, forelle or other such variety of pears; the sweet, soft pears that you can easily bite into won’t work here. As for the wine, I’ll repeat what I always say when cooking with wine, it doesn’t have to be an expensive, high quality wine; any reasonable decent wine will do simply because it gets cooked down so much also I have tried this recipe with a merlot, a pinot noir and a cabernet sauvignon and all three produced equally good results so again it’s not the most important thing, any decent red wine will work. Apart from the spices I also added some orange zest and juice but I feel the orange turned the pears a brownish reddish colour as opposed to the deep red pears I got from only the wine and spices, I’m not sure if the orange is to blame but that’s what I think though the citrus does add a lovely flavour and aroma, so up to you really.
So Diwali is around the corner and although we don’t get to feel the festive energy here I was thinking about all the excitement back home and all the Diwali and card parties and all the food that I’m missing out on so I made something nice and savoury that would be perfect for those kind of parties or any party actually and especially with wine. So a little savoury nibble coming your way next, until then get some pears, pop open some wine and make this dessert, it’s a nice change from all the mithai.
- Red Wine- 1 bottle (750 ml)
- Pears- 6
- Sugar- ¾ cup
- Cinnamon- 3 inch stick
- Star anise- 2-3
- Cloves- 8- 10
- Zest and juice of one large orange (optional)
- Keeping the stem intact, peel the pears.
- In a pot of suitable size, add all the ingredients. Cut out a piece of parchment paper and place it directly on the pears so they remain submerged in the liquid, you could also use a small plate.
- Bring the wine to boil, then turn it down to a simmer and cook till the pears are soft all the way through (about 25 minutes); cooking time will depend on the size of the pears.
- Once the pears are cooked through, using a slotted spoon remove the pears and set aside to cool. Keep cooking the liquid till it reduces and becomes syrupy. Strain the wine reduction and discard the spices and zest. If you find the sauce too sweet, add some lemon juice to it.
- Serve pears (chilled or warm) with vanilla ice cream and the wine reduction.
- Choose firm pears like packham or forelle or other such variety.
- Any red wine will do, since the wine gets cooked down so much there’s no need for an expensive one. I’ve used a pinot noir as well as a cabernet sauvignon, both give equally good results.
- Cooking time will depend on the size and ripeness of the pears; make sure the pears are well cooked and not crunchy from the inside.
- You can cut the pears in half or even quarter it if you want to reduce cooking time. Cut pears will cook faster.
- Keep an eye on the liquid when you’re reducing the wine, if you let it go too far, it’ll become sticky and turn into jelly. Remember the sauce will continue to thicken as it cools.
- The longer the pears remain soaked in the wine, the deeper the colour will be. You can soak the pears in wine for 1-2 hours before cooking it.
- Cooked pears will keep for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.
- I like to serve the pears chilled with vanilla ice cream and the reduced wine sauce.