Port Wine Poached Pears are a stunning and delicious fall and winter dessert. Full of warming spices, they're fantastic on their own, over ice cream, in a tart, and even alongside chicken. This port wine dessert is so easy to make and so impressive!
8small-medium pears (about 4 ounces each, ripe, but firm), I suggest Bosc or Comice
about 5wholestar anise
about 3(approximately 3 inch)cinnamon sticks
a fewsprigsfresh thyme, washed and dried
Make the poaching liquid. Add the port wine, sugar, star anise, cinnamon and thyme to a large pot. Warm it over medium heat just long enough to dissolve the sugar.
Prepare the pears. Start this step only when the poaching liquid is ready. First cut a small base on the bottom of each pear. Then use a tiny melon baller to gently scoop out a small hole from the bottom of each one, working your way all the way into the pear to remove the seeds. Add each to the wine marinade as you work. (If you don't have a melon baller, use a tiny spoon (that's strong) or a paring knife. If you use the knife, move it in a circular motion, up the center of the pear.) Peel the pears, from the top down, beginning right at the stem. (Add each pear to the port wine poaching liquid as you work.
Poach/Marinate. Over medium-high heat, bring the liquid to a strong simmer and then reduce the heat to the lowest setting and gently simmer just until the pears are tender. Use a fork to gently prod a pear to see how soft it is. They should be tender, but still firm enough to hold their shape nicely. Turn off the heat and let the pears sit in the poaching liquid for at least 3 hours, and up to a week. (Store them in the liquid, refrigerated in a tightly sealed container. Do not refrigerate until they've cooled to room temperature.)
Make a port wine glaze. When you're ready to serve -- or whenever you ultimately remove the pears from the liquid, use a large slotted spoon to do so. Set the poached pears aside, and pour the liquid through a fine mesh strainer into a small pot. Over high heat, bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer until it has reduced by at least half. This should take about 15 minutes, and the result will be a sweet, thick port wine syrup.
Serve. Slice the pears any way you'd like to, or serve them whole. Drizzle with the glaze and garnish with finely chopped nuts if desired.
Calorie count is only an estimate.
Keywords fresh fruit desserts, fall desserts with pears
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