Update: December 19, 2015
I made Blackberry and Wine Poached Pears for dessert tonight–the first time this winter. I just love this dessert. Tonight, I gave it a little twist. To the spice mix, I added a half-teaspoon of mixed peppercorns that I crushed slightly in my marble mortar. They added an interesting little zing to the pears and the syrup. Yum! I hope you’ll try this dessert this winter, if you missed it last year.
This is one of my favorite fall and winter desserts, and it’s so easy to make. I am not an elegant plater, but if you have the right dishes and plate this dessert properly, it’s pretty as well as delicious. Be sure to give this one a try before pears disappear from your grocery store.
Blackberry and Wine Poached Pears
2 cups red wine (pinot noir or merlot are best)
½ cup blackberry jam or blackberry jelly
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1-2 cinnamon sticks
10 whole allspice berries
3 whole cloves
4 ripe but firm pears suitable for cooking, with stems if possible (Anjou or Bosc are best, but Barletts can be used as well)
Vanilla ice cream
Combine wine, jam, and spices (ground spices can also be used: 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice, 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg, and a pinch of ground cloves) in a pot or pan large enough to hold the liquids and the pears; bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Peel pears, leaving stems on fruit. Carefully lower pears into poaching liquid and simmer, covered, until cooked through (15-30 minutes depending on the ripeness and type of pears you use).
Rotate fruit as needed to ensure even color and flavor. Check doneness with a fork near the base of the fruit, where it is thickest. The fork should slide in easily all the way to the core. Do not overcook the pears, or they will simply fall apart.
Remove pears from poaching liquid and set aside in warm oven to stay warm while sauce reduces.
Turn poaching liquid on high and boil rapidly until it begins to thicken, then turn down and continue reducing at a medium low temperature until syrup is as thick as pancake syrup. Strain syrup off into glass measuring cup or pitcher to cool slightly.
Plate each pear with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of slightly cooled spiced blackberry-wine syrup.
If you have any syrup left over, save it for pouring over ice cream alone or for topping pancakes and fruit for a luxurious winter breakfast or brunch.