Chocolate mystery hearts, stuffed bears dressed like Cupid, and an overabundance of pink, seem to be oozing out of every store I find myself in. This only means one thing – Valentine’s Day is now upon us. Today in fact! This Hallmark-driven holiday isn’t solely reserved for smitten gift-card giving, but also for a little something sweet for your Sweet. Chocolates are the conventional dessert of choice; however, this year I opted to create a confection worthy of a cozy romantic evening. Red wine, spiced balsamic vinegar, delicate pears, and rich mascarpone come together in a special dessert, best shared with your better half. Oh, and don’t forget the nice bottle of wine while you’re at it…
I’m trying to incorporate more fruit into my diet (well, I wrote it down on my to-do list at least) and I love fresh pears of almost every variety. There is something mildly sweet & clean about them, which makes ripe pears perfect for baking, and in this case, poaching with a flavorful sauce. Though, the real inspiration for this dish came when I sampled a seasonal balsamic vinegar at my local WeOlive. They were featuring a Mulled Spiced Balsamic this winter, which shined with aromatic flavors of cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, though was still very subtle. I fell in love with this one immediately, and though it would be great with oil for dipping bread, I knew it would compliment a dessert perfectly! I love to use various balsamics over fruit, like strawberries & blackberries, but I thought that the red pears on my counter deserved a go, and so I found myself reducing a slightly acidic/semi-sweet sauce, and poaching these bad boys ’till perfectly tender. Great on their own, but I felt we needed to make this one extra decadent given the occasion, with rich & creamy mascarpone cheese & cinnamon. It is indulgent, and I’m okay with that…
- 2-4 red pears, ripened
- 1 cup red wine (I used a Sangiovese I had open)
- ¼ cup Mulling Spiced Balsamic Vinegar (or steep a bag of mulling spices if unavailable)
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1T honey
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
- ~1 tsp fresh orange zest
- pinch of Pink Himalayan sea salt (to taste)
- ground cinnamon
- ~2T - ¼ cup mascarpone cheese (depending on # of pears & preference)
- In medium sauce pan combine wine & mulled balsamic and gently warm on low.
- To warmed mix on stove, add the sugar & honey, whisking to dissolve well.
- Add cinnamon stick, and bring to a boil on medium-low, reducing heat to low & simmering to reduce liquid to thicken somewhat.
- Prepare fresh pears by gently peeling, and coring from bottom, leaving stem intact.
- In small, glass baking dish, place pears upright & pour over sauce, letting the remaining sit at bottom of dish.
- Drizzle pears with honey.
- Poach pears on 325 degrees, basting by spooning over pan sauce every 5-10 min, for ~40 min, or until very tender when tested with a fork.
- Prepare a serving dish with ~ 2T of mascarpone per pear (less or more to preference), sprinkle very lightly with cinnamon & place poached pears on top, spooning over some of reserved sauce from dish.
- Top with fresh orange zest, dash of pink sea salt & garnish with a mint or rosemary sprig.
Perfectly easy to prepare, and this one would also marry-up well over rich vanilla bean ice cream, or Greek yogurt. Though, I virtually never buy mascarpone, and it is a welcome & decadent deviation from my standard yogurt. Mascarpone is essentially an Italian cream cheese, and comes in flavored varieties, but I went with the plain and just added the cinnamon for just a touch of spice. Our poaching sauce is full of vibrant flavors, which will tie the dish all together, so we don’t need much other than that and the pears! I think this is great for a romantic night-in, or for a dinner party dessert. Valentine’s Day may mean long lines, overpriced gifts, and a 2 hour dinner wait, but it is certainly one darn good excuse for making something sweet.
Happy Saint Valentine’s Day to you, and however you’ll be spending it, I hope there is dessert!Pin It