The holidays wouldn’t feel complete without towering cookie platters and magnificent pastries, but crimson-hued poached pears boast all of the beauty and drama of the season without all those pesky calories.
I have a sweet tooth that goes into overdrive during the holidays, distracted by every decadent goodie tempting me at every turn. Like most, I sip, savor and indulge while heeding these 7 tips to help keep me healthy and avoid the dreaded New Year’s diet.
I’m always on the lookout to lighten things up here in my own kitchen, and red wine-poached pears are my holiday favorite. Imagine juicy pears bathing in a crimson sea of spices, filling your home with the comforting scent of cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Blackberries add a tangy complement and can be poached alongside the pears or included raw if you prefer.
And poached pears are so versatile, too: serve as part of a cheese platter, with perhaps a dab of chèvre or Gorgonzola, or as an elegant dessert. They are lovely on their own, though standing a stately pear in a pool of dark chocolate or dolloping it with goat cheese cream takes it over the top. I’ll let you decide.
Red Wine Poached Pears and Blackberries
Pears may be made in one day in advance and kept in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Total time: 40 minutes
Yield: 6 servings (individual small pears) or 12 (halved or quartered larger pears).
More from Zester Daily:
1 (750 mL) bottle red Zinfandel wine
2 cinnamon sticks
5 star anise
10 green cardamom pods
1 teaspoon pink peppercorns
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
2/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
6 pears, ripe but firm (I enjoy juicy Comice)
Mint sprigs, for garnish
1. In a large pot, bring first 9 ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
2. Peel the pears to allow liquid to penetrate the fruit. Leave whole if desired, or cut in half (or quarters) and remove seeds. Place the pears into the poaching mixture and simmer for 10 to 20 minutes, depending on the size and ripeness of the pears. Insert a sharp knife into pears to check if done; the pears should give but hold their shape. Add whole or halved blackberries and continue simmering an additional 2 minutes. Remove fruit with a slotted spoon and cool to room temperature.
3. Bring poaching liquid to a boil until it reduces to about 1 cup slightly thickened; strain out spices. Serve fruit in individual bowls, drizzled with a few tablespoons of the sauce and garnished with a sprig of mint.