“The great white Pear tree
Dropped with dew
From leaves and blossom
Under the heavens
Of happy blue.”
The voluptuous and succulent pear. It’s that time of year when these curvy fruits begin to fill up baskets and bins at the local farm markets. Although their juicy sweetness is perfect as-is, something truly delicious happens when these plump beauties are simmered in Bordeaux, scented with autumnal spices and warm vanilla, then left to chill overnight.
To make Chilled Pears Bordelaise you’ll need a bottle of Bordeaux, a little more than a cup of sugar and seasonal spices for essence. I used cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla and bay leaves. The aroma of these simmering pears will fill your home with the comforting notes of fall. It’s aromatherapy and dessert! How ’bout those apples, er, pears?
As the wine simmers it will reduce to a purplish ink-colored syrup, slightly sweet and silky. The pears will absorb the flavors of the reduction taking on the most gorgeous jewel tones of garnet and ruby.
The prep time couldn’t be simpler, in fact the most time-consuming part will be waiting for them to chill. Trust me though, it’ll be well worth the wait.
Be sure to serve the pears with a generous amount of the reduced wine, which also goes gorgeously on top of ice cream too.
This is an easy and elegant dessert to wow your guests or to simply treat yourself. Chilled Pears Bordelaise is the perfect dessert for the upcoming holidays as you’ll be able to prepare them a day or two in advance – yet another reason to love them!
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Chilled Pears Bordelaise
Serves 6 to 8
1 bottle of Bordeaux (a little more than 3 cups)
1 and 3/4 cups of granulated sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out (reserving the seeds and bean) -or- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
6 to 8 large pears, peeled, but kept whole with the stems intact
** You will need a saucepan that is large enough to keep the pears upright and covered in wine.
- In a large saucepan add the wine, sugar, vanilla seeds and beans (or the extract), cinnamon stick, cardamom and bay leaves. Stir to combine well and until the sugar has completely dissolved. You’ll know the sugar has properly dissolved when you no longer feel the grainy bits on the bottom of the pan when stirring. Bring to a low boil over medium heat;
- Slowly lower in the pears, taking care to keep them upright and covered in wine. Cover the saucepan and simmer, turning the pears occasionally so they cook evenly, about 30 minutes. Note: The cooking time will entirely depend on the ripeness of the pears – you’ll want them to be tender all the way through;
- Allow the pears to cool, then chill overnight (or up to two days) in the refrigerator. I make a note to turn them once or twice if leaving them longer than 24 hours as one side will inevitably absorb more syrup than the other;
- To serve, place each pear into a shallow bowl, being sure to spoon a generous amount of syrup over them. Enjoy!
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