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simple elegance

There are few desserts more elegant and beautiful than a perfect poached pear. I remember, way back when, I was intimidated at the thought of making poached pears at home. But after that first attempt (honestly, some 20+ years ago), I couldn’t believe how easy and simple it was.  If you are still in awe and a bit afraid yourself, give this recipe a try, you too will be amazed at the ease and beauty of this lovely fruit presentation.

Cabernet Poached Pears with Mascarpone

6 firm Bartlett or Bosc pears
1 bottle Cabernet wine
1 whole vanilla bean
2 cinnamon sticks
1 bay leaf (use fresh, if possible)
2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8-ounce container mascarpone cheese, room temperature
1/3 cup heavy cream
Pinch ground cinnamon
1/3 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Find a saucepan or pot that the pears will fit in snuggly while standing up straight. If the pan is a little bit too big, use a small heat-proof bowl or ramekin to use as a “space filler” to keep the pears from floating once the liquid is added.

Peel pears and leave the stems intact.  In a large saucepan, bring wine and an equal amount of cold water to a simmer.  Split the vanilla bean lengthwise and add to the saucepan.  Add cinnamon sticks, bay leaf, sugar, and pepper.  Pour liquid over the pears in their designated pot or saucepan and simmer for about 20 minutes or until tender. (Test for tenderness by inserting a small sharp paring knife into one of the pears.) Remove from heat; leave the pears in the poaching liquid and allow them to come to room temperature. (You can make up to 1 day ahead; cover and refrigerate pears in their poaching liquid until ready to fill and serve.)

Remove pears from liquid and set aside, bring sauce to a boil and reduce to one-third the original amount.  Reduce heat to a simmer and add butter to sauce and whisk until combined. Cool slightly.

Meanwhile, core pears from the bottom with a small sharp paring knife, leaving the pears whole. Cut off the stems from the top of the pears (about 1/2-inch) and set the stems aside. Use the same paring knife to core from the top side, meeting the cored portion from the bottom side, so the pear has a hollowed-out channel from top to bottom, still leaving the pear whole.

In a large bowl, whisk together mascarpone, heavy cream, cinnamon, and powdered sugar until smooth. Transfer mixture to a pastry bag.  Pipe filling into cored pears and finish by gently placing the stems into the mascarpone filling on top of the pears.

Place each pear in a small shallow dessert bowl, then spoon sauce over the pears.

Serves 6

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1 barbara fenzl { 03.10.11 at 2:49 PM }

Dear Linda,

The pears were as delicious as they were beautiful! Our whole house smelled wonderful this morning from the scrumptious poaching liquid. This one’s a true winner.


2 Linda Hopkins { 03.10.11 at 8:41 PM }

Thanks Barb, your gorgeous china bowl sure showed it off! Love you! xoxo

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