Prosecco Pears with Blood Orange Mascarpone Cream
This chapter is a free excerpt from What's For Lunch, Honey?.
When entertaining, dessert is the course that I really enjoy making and creating the most. Although I love cooking the savory part of the meal, dessert is the icing on the cake! Recently, we had a raclette party and invited a few friends to enjoy a lovely evening with us; raclette is in winter what BBQ is in the summer! I think there is nothing more awesome then sitting for hours with friends over an assortment of cheese, meat and pickles as each one puts together their own creation. One always overeats and over-drinks at raclette parties...at least at ours! When it comes to dessert for such things, I like making something that is easy to prepare for a crowd, not too heavy, fruity and full of flavor.
Like these delightful poached pears! Usually I would poach them in wine to offer a bolder and robust flavor, but this time I chose prosecco. For some, prosecco would be second-rate champagne, but a really good prosecco will burst with flavors of spring flowers, herbs and fruit. It has no pretensions as it claims a totally different niche to champagne. Prosecco is made differently than champagne, using a variety of white grape with the same name. For this dessert, prosecco was the perfect choice. I used one that was floral and fruity and slightly on the dryer side, boosting the flavors of the pears, citrus fruits and spices brilliantly.
When there is a crowd to prepare dessert for, it does not get easier than this. The pears can be poached a day or two in advance as they will benefit from the extra soak in the infused syrup and offer a more intense aroma. The blood orange mascarpone cream can also be made a day ahead and kept in the refrigerator. Just take it out of the fridge about 30 minutes before you serve to allow the flavors to come to room temperature.
Ingredients:For poached pears
- 4-6 small pears, peeled whole and stems left intact.
- 200g sugar
- 1 bottle prosecco
- 450 ml water
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 4-6 cloves
- 2 star anise
- Zest of one lemon
- Zest of 1 orange
- 200g mascarpone cheese
- 1 vanilla bean, innards scraped out (save pod to make vanilla sugar)
- 100g sugar
- Zest and juice of 1 blood orange
Method:For poached pears
- Once the pears are peeled, squeeze a little lemon juice over them to stop them from browning.
- In a large saucepan place sugar, prosecco, water, whole spices, lemon and orange zest and heat over medium heat. Stir until sugar has completely dissolved then increase heat and bring to the boil.
- Once the poaching liquid has come to the boil, reduce the heat again and add the pears. Cover the pears with a lid and allow to simmer for 20 minutes or until the pears are tender.
- Steep the pears preferably overnight in the poaching liquid.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk mascarpone cheese, vanilla and sugar until sugar has dissolved.
- Add the zest and drizzle enough juice from the blood orange so that is flavors the mascarpone nicely, but making sure it does not become too runny.
- Refrigerate until needed. Serve with poached pears (recipe above) or see serving variations below.
- Instead of the mascarpone cream, serve the pears with a scoop of bourbon vanilla ice-cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce—a nice take on Poires Belle Hélène.
- Add a handful of chopped roasted pistachios for an added crunch.
- Keep the syrup in a sealed bottle to be used in a variety of different ways. Here's one of my favorites: pour a glug of the syrup in a cocktail glass, add a raspberry or two and top with fresh, bubbly and chilled prosecco. The perfect aperitif to your party!
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