After struggling mightily with the chocolate meringues we thought we had perfected for our first "French Experience" workshop, we decided to switch over to something equally delicious and perhaps more decadent for the second one. It was a hit. Not only is it beautiful, it has the perfect flavors for fall like clove, cinnamon, star anise, and vanilla. Even better, it is light enough that you can consume it guilt-free, even after eating foie gras, forest pie, and pumpkin soup beforehand. Feel free to play around with recipe, adding more or less aromatics of your choosing.
- 6 firm, yet ripe pears
- 3 to 4 cloves (optional)
- 3 to 4 whole black peppercorns
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 1 pint port (or red wine)
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- zest from 1 orange (optional)
- Peel and cut pears in half, removing stems and core.
- Place aromatics (cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns), sugar, and vanilla bean and orange zest, if using into a pan. Top with wine or port. Stir.
- Add in pears and add water, if necessary, to cover pears by 1 inch. Bring mixture to a boil. Allow to boil 1-2 minutes for very ripe pears and 3-4 minutes for firmer pears. You want them to be firm, not mushy, but easy to pierce with a sharp knife.
- Meanwhile, cut circle of parchment paper that will fit inside of pan. Cut small circle from the middle of the paper and place inside the saucepan. Push down a bit on top of pears so that liquid comes up through the middle hole, submersing pears. (This will keep the pears submerged so they have uniform color).
- Once entire saucepan has cooled, remove pears to plate. Boil remaining liquid until reduced 2/3 and liquid is syrupy and coats the back of the spoon.
- Serve with ice cream, creme fraiche, or whipped cream, drizzling syrup over the top of pears and cream.