I am full-on OBSESSED with today’s recipe. I’ve been waiting to share this one with you for a couple weeks now (those who follow along on Instagram may remember this recipe being tested in my stories a couple weeks ago), and now that the Super Bowl has passed (FLY EAGLES FLY!!!! So excited about that win! The city of Philadelphia is so deserving of that win, despite how the national media may portray Philly fans. We’re not all bad, ya know. OK, getting off my soapbox…), we’re moving into Valentine’s Day mode over here.
And these poached pears are the IDEAL thing to serve to your loved ones. Or, in all seriousness, to yourself. An entire pan. For just you. Now, that’s some serious self love. Do it. Self love seems to be the theme of 2018, right? So, what better way to celebrate yourself than to make these pears and NOT share them with anyone! If I were single (and trust me, I remember all those V-days spent being single. I feel ya.), I could definitely get behind a batch of these all for myself.
And here’s why.
We have gorgeous pears poached in spice-infused wine until they are tender and gorgeous and lovely. Then, the wine used for poaching gets reduced down until it’s super syrupy. AND THEN (!!!) dark chocolate gets whisked in to create the most decadent, most addictive wine chocolate sauce ever. Seriously, I couldn’t stop eating it off the spoon. It is INCREDIBLE. I want to drizzle it on everything. This wine chocolate sauce drizzled over ice cream? Or a brownie? Or both??? Oh heaven help me.
The pears are drowned in the chocolate sauce (I may have been a bit heavy handed. Sorry not sorry!) and then served with a light but cardamom-spiced mascarpone cream! You could also serve this over vanilla ice cream, but I specifically wanted to cut the richness and sweetness with something a little lighter, which is why I went with the mascarpone.
And I mean, it doesn’t really get more romantic (or delicious) than red wine, chocolate, and mascarpone cream.
If you need me, I’ll be over here swooning.
My one disclaimer about this recipe is this: while the actual process is EASY, it does take a long time to make the pears. The actual cooking time is maybe a half hour? But then you have to wait for them to come to room temperature and then CHILL them for several hours before serving. Again, the actual act of making these is not complicated at all, but I highly recommend doing the pear portion the day before you plan to serve (or, if your schedule permits it, the morning of the day you want to serve).
Because once those pears are chilled down, the rest of the recipe comes together quickly. You reduce down that wine and make the chocolate sauce, and then you can whisk together your spiced mascarpone cream.
And then it’s time to get down to BUSINESS.
I don’t know about you, but Valentine’s Day is looking pretty dreamy from here.
4 ripe but firm pears, peeled (I used Bosc)
1 cup water
1 cup dry red wine
⅓ cup sugar
4 cardamom pods (or 1 teaspoon ground cardamom)
2 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
4 oz dark chocolate, grated or chopped (I like 70-80% dark)
½ cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon milk or cream
Tiny pinch of cardamom
½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
Combine the water, red wine, sugar, and spices in a pot (pick a pan that is deep enough that the pears can stand up and be mostly covered by the liquid). Place the pot over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, peel the pears and slice a tiny piece off the bottom of each pear so they can stand upright in the pan.
Carefully place the pears in the liquid so they are standing upright, cover the pot, and cook for 15-20 minutes. Check on the pears every 5 minutes or so to ensure they are evenly submerged.
Remove the pot from the heat, uncover, and allow the pears to cool to room temperature in the poaching liquid.
Transfer the entire pot to the fridge and chill for at least 4 hours (and up to 24).
After 4 hours, remove the pot from the fridge and allow it to return to room temperature. Remove the pears from the liquid and set aside.
Return the pot to the stove and place over medium-high heat. Simmer the liquid until it is reduced to roughly 1 cup, about 15 minutes. You want it to be thick and slightly syrupy. Remove the pot from the heat, spoon out the solids (spices, etc), and whisk in the grated or chopped dark chocolate.
Whisk together the mascarpone, milk, cardamom, and vanilla bean paste in a small bowl until smooth and creamy.
Halve each pear and carefully scoop out the seeds and core (I used a small melon baller to do this). Place each pear half on a plate, drizzle with the chocolate-wine sauce, and top with a dollop of the mascarpone cream. Serve immediately.