Red Wine Poached Crimson Gold Apples are a stunning fall and winter dessert. They're filled with vanilla mascarpone, warmly spiced and presented beautifully.
Please note the long marinating time before you begin.
Make the red wine marinade. In a medium-sized sauce pot, combine the wine with the brown sugar, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods, peppercorns, lemon zest and juice. Place the pot over high heat and bring it to a boil. Remove from the heat and stir to be sure the sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside.
Prepare the apples. Peel each apple, leaving the stem intact. Then use a tiny melon baller to gently scoop out a small hole from the bottom of each apple, working your way all the way into the apple to remove the seeds. Add each apple to the wine marinade as you work.
Cook the apples. Place the pot over low-medium heat and bring to a strong simmer. Turn the heat to the lowest setting and simmer just until the apples are tender, about 1 hour. You can test one with a fork -- the apples should slide off the fork with ease when they're ready. Remove the pot from the heat and let them cool at room temperature for about 2 hours.
Marinate. Use a slotted spoon to add the apples to a plastic container large enough to hold them and the liquid. Place a strainer over the container and pour the wine mixture over the apples, straining out the spices. Cover the container and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. (The longer you marinate them, the deeper the flavors will be.)
Turn the marinade into a sauce. Strain the wine mixture into a small sauce pot and set the poached apples aside. Place the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Immediately turn the heat to low and simmer until it has reduced by about ⅔ and has thickened to a syrup consistency -- this should take about 20 minutes.
Make the filling and fill the apples. While the wine sauce is reducing, in a tiny bowl, combine the Mascarpone with the powdered sugar and vanilla. Stir until it's very smooth. Add this to a small zip-lock bag, remove the air and then seal it. Cut a tiny bit off of one of the corners and then squeeze the mixture into the bottom holes of each apple, filling them completely.
Plate and serve! Place the filled apples on a platter of serving plates, drizzle the reduced wine sauce over them, and sprinkle lightly with the pistachios.