Poached Pears with Walnut Cream

The secret to poaching pears is slow, careful cooking and a good-quality Sauternes like Chateau Liot or a California equivalent.

Ingredients

The pears

  • 6 ripe but firm pears, peeled and halved
  • cups good quality Sauternes
  • 1 cup Simple Syrup
  • ½ cup water
  • One ½-inch piece orange peel
  • One ½-inch piece lemon peel
  • One 2-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Walnut Cream

  • 2 ounces toasted walnuts
  • 2 ounces mascarpone
  • 1 teaspoon chopped orange zest
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • ½ teaspoon hazelnut liqueur, such as Frangelico
  • ¾ cup heavy (whipping) cream

Method

To make the pears

Carefully scoop out the cores of the pears with a melon bailer or a small spoon.

Put the Sauternes, simple syrup, water, orange and lemon peel, cinnamon stick, salt, and lemon juice in a medium-sized nonaluminum pot. Bring the liquid to a boil.

Reduce the heat so that the liquid is simmering and add the pear halves. Cover the pears with a clean dish towel or plate to completely submerge them in the liquid. Simmer for about 20 minutes, just until the pears can be pierced easily with a small knife.

Transfer the pears to a bowl and cool them over an ice bath. Return the liquid to the stove and reduce it over medium-high heat until it begins to get slightly syrupy. This will take 5 to 10 minutes. Cool the syrup. (The sauce will get thicker as it cools.)

To make the walnut cream

Put the walnuts in a food processor fitted with a metal blade and finely grind them. Combine all of the other ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer. With the whisk attachment, whip the cream mixture until it begins to thicken but has not yet reached soft peaks. Add all but ¼ cup of the walnuts and continue whipping until soft peaks form. Refrigerate until ready to use.

To assemble

Arrange 2 pear halves, flat side up, on each plate and fill each with 1 tablespoon of the walnut cream. Drizzle the pear syrup over and around the pears and sprinkle with the remaining ground walnuts.