The thing about dessert is that it can be the nail in the gastronomical coffin. Chances are good that it has at least followed a main course. Possibly soup or salad. Maybe there’s been appetizers before that. If it’s a dinner party at our house, it’s likely been all of the above, washed down with as many glasses of wine.
As much fun as it is to create really decadent desserts sometimes, there’s something to be said for keeping it lighter. To not push your guests over the pants-popping edge.
This recipe for Honey Poached Pears with Mascarpone was not only easy to make but easy to make ahead of time. The mascarpone was so delicious I could have easily eaten the whole bowl by myself and the granola added the perfect amount of toasty crunch. I also concluded that I don’t poach pears enough, or any fruit for that matter. It was the perfect light dessert that tasted of fall and dark spices and vanilla. A dessert light enough to justify topping it off with just a splash of dessert wine to end a lovely evening of celebration with new friends.
- 2 firm but ripe large Bosc pears
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup dry white wine (I used a Sawtooth Chardonnay which was creamy and really played up the vanilla tones in the finished dish)
- 6 Tbsp honey
- Generous pinch of salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- ½ cup mascarpone cheese*
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp brandy or dark rum
- ¼ cup granola
- Peel, halve and core pears (a melon baller works great for this last step). Toss pears with the lemon juice in large bowl. Set aside.
- Trace the bottom of your saucepan on a piece of parchment paper and trim out.
- Combine 1 cup water, wine, honey and salt in medium saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Stir over medium heat until honey dissolves.
- Add pears. Cover mixture with the piece of parchment paper. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until pears are just tender when pierced, turning when half-way through cooking, about 15 minutes.
- Using slotted spoon, transfer pears to large bowl. Boil poaching liquid until reduced to ¾ cup, about 2 minutes. Cool syrup.
- Pour syrup over pears. Cover and refrigerate until cold, at least 8 hours or overnight. Remove vanilla bean.
- Whisk mascarpone cheese, sugar and brandy or rum until smooth. Add ¼ cup chilled poaching syrup and continue whisking until soft peaks form.
- Thinly slice each pear half lengthwise, leaving slices attached at stem end. Using metal spatula, transfer pears to plates. Gently press on pears to fan slightly. Spoon some syrup over pears. Spoon mascarpone cream alongside each pear half, top with granola and serve.