Infused with the flavors of mulling spices, red wine, and citrus, these poached pears are divine eaten on their own, warm, with ice cream and their reduced poaching liquid. But they really shine when baked into a cocoa crusted tart filled with luscious crème fraîche custard.
3cups(710 ml) Bi-Rite Cotes du Rhone or other dry red wine
2cups(475 ml) water
¾cup(150 g) organic granulated cane sugar
1whole vanilla pod
A few strips orange or tangerine zest
2whole allspice berries
4medium, firm-ripe pears (such as Bartlett or Bosc), peeled, halved, cored
Put the wine, water, sugar, vanilla, orange zest, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice in a dutch oven or saute pan with high sides. Bring to a boil. Add the pears and simmer until just tender but still holding a shape, 10-20 minutes (longer if pairs are not very ripe), turning the pears over halfway through. Remove from the heat and let sit until ready to use, or cover and chill for up to several days. The pears will continue to pick up color and flavor from the wine.
Remove the pears to a plate and strain the poaching liquid to remove and discard the spices. Simmer the poaching liquid until thick and syrupy, 15-25 minutes. You should have about 1 cup of liquid. When ready to bake, remove the stems and blossoms from the pears and slice lengthwise ¼ - 1/8 – inch thick, keeping the slices together.
Make these up to 1 week in advance and chill in their liquid until needed; they will absorb more and more flavor as they sit.Nutritional values are based on one of eight pear halves.