December is National Pear Month! I’m celebrating by sharing these festive and elegant Poached Pears with Orange Mascarpone Whip and Roasted Hazelnuts. Pear trees are a symbol of comfort, and that’s exactly what this dish is: a comforting, nurturing, and beautiful dessert to share with friends and family.
Poached pears are a classic winter dessert made with full-bodied red wine and the flavors and smells of warming spices like cinnamon, cloves, and vanilla. This dish may look complex, but it’s actually a quite simple recipe and ideal as a make ahead dessert.
This year, I’ll be making these poached pears ahead of time and bringing them to my family’s Christmas celebration. I can’t wait to create memories around this recipe as we gather again to bond and connect through delicious food and endless laughter. However and whoever you celebrate with, I wish you a joyous, healthy, and happy holiday season filled with lots of comforting and delicious food. Food connects us all, and these poached pears promise to be a beautiful addition to your winter plans.
- 4 firm Bosc pears peeled
- 2 cups Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1/ 4 cup demerara sugar, or turbinado sugar
- 1/ 2 vanilla bean paste
- 1/ 2 tablespoon whole cloves
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 vanilla bean, split open
- 1 orange
- 1/ 3 cup toasted hazelnuts, (method below), roughly chopped
- 1/ 2 cup mascarpone
- 2/ 3 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/ 2 teaspoon vanilla sugar, or confectioners' sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Remaining orange zest
For the Pears
Remove two 3-inch long strips of orange peel, then zest the remainder. Halve and juice orange.
In a 4-quart saucepan, bring wine, sugar, vanilla bean paste, cloves, cinnamon stick, vanilla bean, and orange juice and peels to a rapid boil.
Reduce to a simmer and gently add pears, leaning them on their sides so they are submerged. Cook, covered, for 20 minutes, rotating after 10 minutes to ensure even poaching and color on each side.
Remove from heat, stand pears upright in the pot, and allow them to cool completely. If making ahead of time, transfer pears upright to a separate dish and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. Keep pot covered on stove until ready to make syrup and serve.
Right before serving, reduce wine by about half over medium heat, 10-15 minutes. It will become thick and syrupy, coating a spoon. Use a sieve to strain the syrup from the pot. Let it cool a bit before serving. Drizzle to coat each pear with syrup.
For the Hazelnuts (If Toasting Your Own)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Place hazelnuts in a single layer on a sheet pan. Toast for 15 minutes. Shake pan halfway through.
Remove from oven and allow nuts to cool. Once cool, shake vigorously in a kitchen towel until the skins loosen and shed. Roughly chop and place aside.
For the Orange Mascarpone Whip
Add mascarpone to a mixer and mix on low, until a bit loosened.
Add heavy whipping cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until stiff, smooth peaks form, scraping sides as needed.
Gently fold in remaining orange zest.