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The Best Dessert: Red-Wine Poached Pears


The concept to poaching pears is similar to mulling spiced wine. You're making a mulled wine of sorts, except you add a peeled pear and cook it at just below the boiling point. The liquids are transformed into a warm syrup to be poured over cool pears — an elegant dessert that looks fancy and complicated, but really takes minimal time and effort. The hint of Grand Marnier is a nice surprise once the pears are garnished with the orange zest, right before serving.

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 4 firm but ripe Bosc pears
  • 2 cups red wine, preferably a high-quality Cabernet or Bordeaux
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier
  • 2 star anise pods
  • 1 teaspoon whole cloves
  • 5 whole allspice berries
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Zest of 1 orange for garnish

Combine wine, sugar, Grand Marnier, and spices in a medium pot and heat slowly. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Use this time to peel the pears gently, leaving the stems attached. After you peel the pears, cut the bottom of each slightly so they can stand upright on their own.

Place the peeled pears into the simmering wine and spices. Cover and allow the fruit to poach over medium-low heat for 15 minutes. Turn and allow the fruit to poach on the other side for another 15 minutes.

Once fully poached, remove the pan from the heat and stand up the pears the liquid. Give the pan enough time to come to room temperature, then place it in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and up to 24.

When you are ready to serve, remove the pears and strain the liquid through a sieve to remove any remaining spices. Heat the liquid over medium high, bring to a boil and simmer until reduced by half. Gently pour the warm wine reduction over the pears on a platter or individually.

Garnish with orange zest and serve.

This makes for a perfect dessert that can be done ahead  of time, then put together and served in just minutes after the main course.

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