Poached pears with ice cream are my new obsession. They are simple to make, delicious to eat, and they lend themselves to an infinite number of variations. Pears poached in spiced red wine are classic and perfect for the holiday season. I’ve had them three times this month: once in my cooking class, once from my friend at our Global Supper Club, and then I made them for Christmas Eve. These pears are the perfect dessert after a heavy meal, served over vanilla ice cream with the red wine syrup spooned over the top.
I love making this dessert with tiny seckle pears, each of which serve 1 person. I couldn’t find them for Christmas Eve, so I used bartletts instead. Each large pear serves 2 people. To begin, peel each pear completely. If you leave any skin on, the pear will have a white spot where the wine does not penetrate. Halve the pears from top to bottom, and remove the cores and stems.
To a pot, add 4 cups of red wine. Use a wine that is less expensive but still one that you’d drink. Also, 4 cups is slightly more than 1 bottle. Add 1.5 cups of sugar to the pot along with the spices: 2 cinnamon sticks, 2 star anise, 1 tablespoon of peppercorns, and 1/2 tablespoon of cloves. Bring the liquid to a boil, and stir it to dissolve the sugar.
Once the sugar is dissolved, add the pears to the pot, and reduce the liquid to a simmer. Put a lid on the pot, and cook the pears until they can be easily pierced with a knife. The knife should go in and come out without any effort. The time it takes to cook the pears will depend on their size, but the large ones I used cooked in about 30-40 minutes.
When the pears are cooked, remove them from the wine so they don’t over-cook. Raise the heat on the wine, letting it boil until it reduces into a thicker syrup.
Let the syrup cool completely, remove the spices, and then transfer the syrup into a container with the pears. Store them in the refrigerator. These pears are great for making ahead of time, even by a few days.
Reheat the pears and syrup before you are ready to serve them. Scoop out a bowl of vanilla ice cream, and top it with a pear and some syrup. The warmth of the pears is a perfect contrast to the cold ice cream, and I love when the deep purple begins to swirl. And the smell is just heavenly!
- Red wine- 4 cups
- Sugar- 1.5 cups
- Cinnamon sticks- 2
- Star anise- 2
- Peppercorns- 1 tablespoon
- Cloves- 1/2 tablespoon