I attempted this recipe from MarthaStewart.com, mostly because the finished product looked so impressive. I have to say it was a masterful okay-crazy kind of baked good to bring to a party, but I was disappointed in the cake portion. It was oily and salty and too crumbly to really sustain the reduction sauce – not at all what I would expect from Martha, but hey, you can’t win them all. The pears, however, were phenomenal. I will now poach all things in wine instead of water. Plus they turn a lovely blush from the red wine. Recipe below, with a few tweaks from the original.
Red Wine Poached Pears
- 5 medium firm pears, such as Anjou, Bartlett, or Bosc
- 1 bottle (750 ml) robust red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, or Merlot
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 whole cinnamon stick
- Peel from 1 orange
- Peel from 1 lemon
- 3 whole cloves
- 1 star anise
- 2 whole bay leaves
Peel pears, and place in a medium saucepan. Add remaining ingredients and just enough water to cover pears.
Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer, and cook, stirring gently, until a fork easily pierces pears, about 15 minutes. Remove pan from heat; let pears cool in liquid.
Using a slotted spoon, a serving bowl or airtight container for storage. Pour poaching liquid through a sieve set over a bowl. Discard solids, and return liquid to saucepan. Place over medium-high heat, and cook until liquid has been reduced to a syrup that coats the back of a spoon, about 45 minutes. Let cool; store pears in red-wine syrup in an airtight container until ready to eat.