There’s nothing more elegant and delicious than poaching pears in red wine. In this recipe, the red wine transforms the pear into an alluring colour of garnet. Along with the warm and tantalizing aromas from the orange, cinnamon, and cloves, this dessert is the perfect crowd pleaser to any dinner party or to impress that special someone of yours.
Poached Pears in Red Wine was the first dessert recipe that I learned as a self-taught homecook. The first time I encountered this dish was during our month-long vacation in Italy back in 2012. The husband and I stumbled upon a random family restaurant in Florence, where the pleasing aromas coming out of the restaurant lured us in. And you know how they say it’s always best to, “follow your nose!” At this restaurant, I had my very first bite of the most delicious Poached Pears in Red Wine with a side of whipped mascarpone cheese. That was the very moment that I fell in love with this dessert.
For my recipe, I will be using beautiful Bosc pears that I will poach in a flavourful liquid containing spices of cloves and cinnamon, along with fresh orange juice, orange zest, sugar, and of course, a jammy Zinfandel wine! I find that adding flavourful spices of cloves and cinnamon into the wine adds a divine quality of warmth and comfort into this recipe.
I will also be making whipped and sweetened crème fraîche infused with vanilla bean to serve on the side. The subtle sweetness, creaminess and tanginess from the Crème Fraiche is a perfect accompaniment with the poached pears.
To garnish this dessert, I topped the pear with a “spun sugar” nest made from sugar that I infused with vanilla bean and orange zest.
With my dinner parties, I always make this dessert the night before as it gives the poaching liquid more time for the flavours to marry each other.
Poached Pears in Red Wine
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total: 3 hours 30 minutes
Suggestion: This recipe is perfect to make a day ahead.
1 bottle of Red Wine. Preferably “jammy’ wines such as Zinfandel or Primitivo
1/2 cup Sugar
1 Orange, juiced
1 teaspoon Orange Zest
1 Cinnamon stick
4 Pears*, choose the firm and ripe ones, with the stems intact for presentation
- Using a 3 or 4-quart saucepan, combine Wine, Sugar, Orange Juice, Orange Zest, cloves and cinnamon stick. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- While the poaching liquid is simmering, peel the pears leaving the stem intact while carefully leaving the flesh unblemished. Slice about 1/2 inch off the bottom of the pears creating a flat bottom.
- Carefully place the pears, laying on its side, in the poaching liquid. Cover the pan, maintain a slow simmer, and cook for 25 minutes, gently turning the pears every 5 minutes to ensure even colouring.
- Remove the pan from the heat, uncover, and set the pears upright in the pan. Let cool for about 30 minutes. Once cool, cover and place the pan in the refrigerator to chill for at least 3 hours up to 36 hours.
- When the pears are ready, carefully remove from the poaching liquid without blemishing the skin and place each pear on individual serving bowls.
- Discard the cinnamon stick and cloves from the poaching liquid and reduce it by simmering in the pan until the liquid thickens and becomes syrup like, about 10-15 minutes. Once liquid is thickened, remove from the flam and let it cool down to room temperature.
- Drizzle each pear with about 3-4 tablespoons of syrup, pouring it over the stem and letting it coat the pear as it goes down.
- Serve and enjoy. This recipe is perfect to make a day ahead!
*When there is no ripe pears available, you can “speed up” the ripening process by placing pears inside a brown paper bag (optional: along with a ripe banana) and folding the top to seal it. Let it “ripen” inside the bag for 2-3 days or until the pears slightly softens up when you press on it. Do not use unripe pears, it will be not be tender enough to eat.
Total time: At least 12 hours
For the Crème Fraîche
1 cup of Heavy Whipping Cream*
2 tablespoon of cultured Buttermilk**
To Sweeten the Crème Fraîche
2 tablespoon of Sugar
1 Vanilla bean (Optional), you can also substitute with 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract.
To make a Traditional Crème fraîche
- Combine Cream and Buttermilk in a glass bowl, mix well until combined.
- Cover with a cheesecloth (or any other breathable material) and let sit in room temperature (70°F) undisturbed for about 12 to 24 hours, or until very thick.
- Refrigerate until cold before serving. You can keepCrème Fraîche refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
To Make a lightly Sweetened Whipped Crème Fraiche for Desserts:
- Add 2 tablespoon of sugar to the cold Crème fraiche.
- Optional: If using a vanilla bean, split it in half and scrape the seeds from the bean into the cream. If using vanilla extract, add it to the cream.
- Using a whisk (or electric whisk) whip the cream until soft peak forms.
- Enjoy this whipped Vanilla Bean Crème Fraîche with any dessert for that beautiful sweet tang!
*Use Pasteurized and NOT Ultra-pasteurized Cream or Ultra-High Temperature Cream. If you use ultra-pasteurized or ultra-high temperature cream, it might take more than 48 hours for your Crème Fraiche to thicken.
**Cultured buttermilk is needed for the bacterial action to thicken up the Crème Fraîche.