I think everyone should have a good “back-pocket recipe”. You know, those recipes that everyone “oohs” and “ahhs” over but are actually deceptively easy to make. My friend Heather has her lemon bars, my mom has her minestrone soup, and my friend Mike has his brownies. For my husband, it’s his cocktail little smokies recipe, but I don’t condone this. I vote that this recipe should become one of yours. I mean have you seen this dessert?! These burgundy beauties are a showstopper. But I’ll let you in on a secret, these are SO easy to make. Like so easy even my cooking challenged friends can make it. This is one of those dishes that makes you look like a pro, but requires very little skill or effort. All you really have to do is simmer all the ingredients together in a pot. See? You can do that!
Another great thing about this recipe is its adaptability. Have really sweet juicy pears? Use less sugar. Don’t like cinnamon, cardamom and star anise? Use cloves, nutmeg, or whatever spices you like. Don’t really like the taste of wine? Obviously there’s something wrong with you… just kidding. Use less wine and more water, just understand that you won’t get as deep of a red color.
I topped the pears with Chantilly cream which is pretty much whipped cream but with a fancier name. Technically there are differences, but let’s be honest, I just like the name. I like a lightly sweetened cream with these pears but feel free to add more sugar if you like it sweeter.
- 2 cups dry red wine
- 1 cup water
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 orange, juiced (about ½ cup)
- 1 large strip orange zest
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2 cardamom pods
- 1 star anise
- 4 firm, ripe pears
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- In a medium saucepan combine all ingredients except the pears.
- Bring everything to a boil and then reduce heat to low to simmer for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile gently peel pears, leaving stems intact and cut ½ inch off the bottoms off of pears to create a flat surface.
- Place pears into the pot on their side so they’re completely covered by the liquid.
- Cover the pan and simmer for 15-20 minutes, turning the pears every 5 minutes to ensure even coloring.
- Remove the pot from heat once the pears are tender, but not squishy.
- In order to get a deep red color, once pears and liquid have cooled, place in fridge and refrigerate for 4-24 hours.
- Minutes before you’re going to eat them, pull the pears out of the fridge and bring to room temp.
- Put the poaching liquid into a small pot and cook over medium high heat for 15 minutes, reducing the liquid to a syrupy consistency.
- Place pears on a plate, drizzle with poaching liquid, top with Chantilly cream and enjoy!
- Place all ingredients into a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium-high until cream thickens to a consistency you like.
*For a vegan twist, substitute Chantilly Cream with this simple Coconut Whipped Cream recipe from Minimalist Baker.