When I was young, one of my favourite desserts was my grandmother’s poached pears.
She would poach the pears until only just cooked through – al dente – with reams of whole lemon peel and a modest splash of red wine that turned the poaching liquid a lovely rose colour.
I remember they were delicious by themselves but Grandmama often served them with a dollop of thick greek yogurt and the rosé-hued syrup spooned over the top.
This recipe is sort of the grown-up version, with a rich, velvety syrup reminiscent of mulled wine and fruit destined for far greater things than being spooned over one’s morning muesli.
The lime mousse is a wonderful culinary discovery that I’ll be keeping on file for future desserts. The infusion of citrus makes a nice alternative to regular whipped cream and provides a lovely lift to the sumptuous, spiced pears.
red wine poached pears
with lime mousse
from the december 2011 issue of delicious. magazine
6 firm pears (such as packham or corella)
2 cups red wine
400g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1 cinnamon quill
2 star anise
½ cup toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
2 titanium-strength gelatine leaves
150ml lime juice (from about 4 limes)
125g castor sugar
300ml thickened cream, whipped to soft peaks
Peel and core the pears and then cut into quarters.
Place the pear quarters, red wine, caster sugar, vanilla pod and seeds, spices and two cups of water in a large saucepan.
Bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring gently to dissolve the sugar.
Cover the surface closely with a piece of baking paper cut to fit and reduce the heat to medium-low.
Simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the pears are soft. Remove from the heat and allow the pears to cool in the poaching liquid.
Meanwhile, for the lime mousse, soak the gelatine leaves in cold water for five minutes.
Combine the lime juice, sugar and one cup of water in a pan over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat.
Squeeze the excess water from gelatine and stir into the warm lime syrup until completely dissolved.
Pour the liquid through a fine sieve to remove any small solids and refrigerate for about 40 minutes. Once cool, fold the whipped cream into the lime syrup in three batches.
To serve, remove the pears from the poaching liquid.
Arrange two pears in the base of each serving glass and divide half the mousse between the glasses.
Repeat the layers and scatter the toasted hazelnuts over the top.