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Pears have always been one of my favorite fruits. There’s just something about biting into a ripe pear while trying to keep the juice from running down your chin. Pears actually taste a little sweeter when cooked and maintain a lovely texture, so they’re perfect for desserts.
Since we’re trying to save room for a dessert each weekend and maintain a healthy lifestyle, any dessert starring fruit catches my eye. This recipe from Alton Brown seems so elegant but totally simple to make. The ingredients are few, the flavor is wonderful and it’s sure to impress your guests.
All you need is 4 pears, a bottle of Riesling wine, vanilla infused sugar (regular granulated is fine too) and a vanilla bean.
This is why I love my macro lens. Split the fresh vanilla bean in half and scrape out the pulp. I am fascinated with these tiny little beans of intense vanilla flavor!
I keep previously used (and dried) vanilla beans in a jar with sugar for special desserts like this. Easy vanilla sugar!
Using a potato peeler, peel the skin from the pears leaving the stem intact. Set aside.
In a 3 or 4 quart saucepan combine the bottle of wine, sugar, vanilla bean and pulp.
Heat on medium-high heat.
While the wine mixture is heating up, core the pears from the bottom removing all the seeds. You don’t have to go all the way to the top near the stem to get all the seeds.
Once cored you can slice a thin piece off the bottom to help it sit upright if needed.
Once the wine mixture is boiling, decrease the heat to medium low and add the pears to the pot. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the pears are tender but not mushy. Keep the mixture simmering gently.
Remove the pears to a serving dish or pie plate. The pears should be standing upright. Place the pears in the refrigerator.
Remove the vanilla bean from the wine mixture and increase the heat to high. You want to reduce the liquid to about 1 cup if possible. (I ended up with 1 3/4 cups of syrup.) Boil for about 20 to 25 minutes but do not allow the syrup to turn dark brown. Remove the syrup to a heat proof container and refrigerate for about 1 hour or until ready to serve.
When ready to serve, remove the pears from the refrigerator and place on a serving dish. Drizzle with the reduced syrup and serve. If you want to garnish the pears with a little fresh mint, use a skewer to make a small hole hear the stem. Insert the mint leaving the stem intact.
So simple yet so elegant!
See all those lovely little vanilla beans? Yum!
Another way to serve the pears is to slice each whole pear almost to the stem then fan out the pieces on a serving plate. Serve with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream drizzled with the wine reduction sauce. Oh yeah baby!
Tender, sweet, cool pears.
Don’t forget to save room for this dessert!
Vanilla & Wine Poached Pears
(adapted from a recipe by Alton Brown on Foodnetwork.com 2005)
1 bottle of white wine, Riesling
1 cup water
3/4 cup vanilla sugar
1 whole vanilla bean, split and pulp removed
4 firm Bosc pears, peeled leaving stem intact (Anjou or Bartlett are fine too)
Add the wine, water, vanilla sugar, vanilla bean and pulp to a 3 or 4-quart saucepan. Heat on medium-high and bring to a boil.
While the wine mixture is heating up, core the pears from the bottom to remove all seeds. Once the wine is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low and gently add the pears to the saucepan. Cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the pears are tender but not mushy. Maintain a gentle simmer while cooking the pears. Remove the pears to a serving dish standing them upright, and place in the refrigerator.
Remove the vanilla bean from the wine mixture and increase the heat to high. Reduce the syrup to approximately 1 cup of liquid, approximately 20-25 minutes. Do not allow the syrup to get a dark brown. Remove it from the heat and place in a heatproof bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour or until cool.
Remove the pears from the refrigerator and spoon the sauce on top. Serve!
Thanks so much for stopping by! Hope you have this MLK holiday off from work. Enjoy!