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by on December 6th, 2014

Wine Poached Pears with Almond Cream

And it has wine jelly leaves.

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I had to give you this recipe in time for Christmas. Maybe you want to do a light dessert during the holidays. Wouldn’t this be a beautiful Christmas dessert; I’d cut the wine jelly into little stars instead of leaves.

Isn’t it amazing how many food blogs are out there and I’m amazed at how many I follow. Recently I was looking for a dessert recipe for our Fall dinner and came across this poached pear recipe at allthatcooking.com. It had such a beautiful presentation that I knew I had to look no further. All That Cooking is a co-authored blog and this recipe belongs to Óli who is from Iceland but lives in Sweden and has been a professional chef for the last 30 years.

I never liked can pears as a kid and when my mother, for some reason, would use a can of fruit cocktail as a starter for her homemade fruit salad, I always picked out the pears and left them behind on the plate. Over the years, I learned to appreciate the juiciness of a fresh pear and started trying all the different varieties. I love the Asian pear but for this dish it doesn’t have the shape I wanted.

This recipe was followed as written except for the cutting of the jelly cubes. I have some tiny aspic cutters and a few fall leaf cutters we are trying. and the way his dessert is described –Firm pears, poached to a jewel toned crimson, surrounded by a just rich enough almond cream with flecks of butter toasted almonds is a dessert to please anyone’s palate — now doesn’t that make you want to try it.

We were having this dessert after Osso Buco and wanted something light. Maybe you will add this recipe to one of your dinner parties over the holidays or save it for anytime of the year. It’s definitely a beautiful and impressive looking dessert and not that hard to make either.

UPDATE: I just posted a revised recipe for French Fried Beets. I first had them at East Side Kings in Austin (Top Chef winner) and tried to recreate on my own. Today I found their recipe that they shared with Food Network. Hope you will try these.

BLAST FROM THE PAST: Here is an appetizer I did a couple of years ago with figs. Fig and Cheese Bruschetta is quick and easy to make over the holidays. I used dried figs for this particular one but fresh ones would be fantastic if you can find them.

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Ingredients for a beautiful and delicious dessert.

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The pears get poached in a wine, sugar, cinnamon stick mixture.

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Remove pears from poaching liquid.

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Cut a small piece off the bottom of the pear so it will stand upright without tilting over.

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Start at the top of the pear, about 1″ down from top and start making cuts through to the middle of pear but not all the way through. Make the cut curved towards the bottom instead of straight up and down.

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Some of the poaching liquid and wine and sugar plus some gelatin get cooked to become the wine jelly. Pour into sprayed flat tray.

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Use either small leaf cutter or just cut the jelly into cubes for a garnish.

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Toast the almonds. I think they were suppose to be chopped finely before toasting; I misread that part.

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The almond cream is fairly easy to make; the first time I got it too thick. This can easily be thinned by adding a little cream.

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Wine Poached Pears with Almond Cream and Jelly Leaves

For the pears:
1/2 bottle good red wine
1 cup sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
4 very firm, ripe pears, peeled

Combine wine, sugar, cinnamon sticks and pears in a pot large enough to accommodate the pears. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. When boiling, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15-20 minutes turning every 5 minutes.

Remove pot from heat and let everything cool to room temperature.

When room temperature remove the pears to a container, cover and refrigerate. Save the cooking liquid for the wine jelly.

Almond Cream
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or Crème Fraîche
2 egg yolks, beaten

In a large skillet, over medium heat, melt butter then toss in almonds. Stir constantly until almonds are golden. Remove 2 tablespoons almonds and reserve for garnishing.

Remove skillet from heat and add cream, sugar and yogurt. Whisk until well combined.

Return skillet to heat. When it is hot, pour a small stream of the cream mixture into the egg yolks, very slowly so you don’t scramble the eggs. After you have added maybe 1/2 of the mixture you can go on and add remainder faster, whisking while you add it in. Cook over low until you have the consistency of melted ice cream. (Or until it has coated the back of a wooden spoon.)

Transfer sauce to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. If this is too thick when you are ready to serve, put in a saucepan and warm while adding a little cream.

Red Wine Jelly

2 envelopes unflavored gelatin (1/2 oz.)
1 c. red wine
Poaching liquid from pears
1/2 c. sugar

In a medium size bowl, dissolve gelatine in wine. Set aside.

Strain poaching liquid into a medium size pot. Stir in sugar and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce until you have 1 cup left. (That is almost what I started with so I skipped that step.)

Pour warm poaching wine into the gelatine/wine combo. Stir until well mixed.

Pour into a shallow container or small tray with sides and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour or until set.

Cut into even sized cubes a little smaller than the size of a sugar cube.

You can dip the jelly cubes into sugar for an added bit of sparkle if you like.

Serving
Use a small, sharp knife to trim off the bottom of the pear so that it will sit upright when plated.

To achieve Oli’s lovely, fanned out presentation, stand the pear on a cutting board. Use a small, sharp knife to cut from top to bottom. Start the cut about one inch from the top. Do not cut straight down, but curve the cut so that when all of them are completed, the pear will automatically fan out. Cut only half way into the center of the pear. Make slices all around the pear.

Note: The first time we made these, the pears had not ripen enough. When I remade them to get a better picture, I allowed them to sit on the counter for a few days to ripen and they cooked much faster.

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