Maybe a little bit late to the party but why not extend the holiday memories with some holiday food? To me this is the ultimate Holiday dessert, the house smells like Christmas when you poach the pears with cinnamon, anise, orange and allspice. This is a super versatile dessert, you can slice the pears and serve them with ice cream or in combination with chocolate mouse or just serve on its own with some cinnamon whipped cream and you can prepare this dish 1 or 2 days ahead of time. First I thought I wouldn’t be a big fan of eating fruit in wine sauce but when you cook the wine long enough the wine pretty much “cooks out” and you get a sweet and syrupy mulled fruit sauce that has a lot of depth but doesn’t taste alcoholic or heavy. If you want to make a kid friendly version change out the wine for apple juice (or pomegranate juice). I have to say this is now one of my favorite recipes and the cinnamon whipped cream gives it just that extra touch of specialness (yes this word does exist! :-)).
- 1 750ml bottle medium-qualify Zinfandel wine (or other red wine will do)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Juice from one large navel orange
- 1 strip orange zest, about 1 inch wide by 3 inches long
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 very small pinch of allspice
- 1 star anise
- 4 firm ripe pears
Cinnamon Whipped Cream
- 1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- In a 4-quart saucepan, combine wine, sugar, orange juice, zest, cinnamon stick, allspice and star anise. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
- While liquid is simmering, peel pears, leaving stem intact and being careful not to blemish the flesh of the pears. Place pears into the poaching liquid, cover, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, turning one in a while to ensure even color, until pears are cooked. At this time the pears will most likely still be firm, if you like them softer just poach them 10-15 minutes longer.
- Remove pears from the liquid and let cool to room temperature.
- Meanwhile, reduce liquid by about half over a medium-high flame for 15 minutes, until liquid is thicker and slightly syrupy. Remove from the flame and let the liquid come to room temperature. Drizzle each pear with 2 tablespoons syrup and cinnamon whipped cream. If you don’t want to serve the pears that day just cool them together with the liquid and prior to serving bring both to room temperature.
Cinnamon Whipped Cream:
- Mix the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside.
- In a chilled bowl of an electric mixer beat the cream on high speed and with the mixer running, slowly sprinkle cream with the cinnamon sugar mixture and continue beating until stiff peaks form.