You could just eat a pear. Or, you could have an elegant, exotically spiced prosecco poached pear. The choice is obvious.
The first time I had a poached pear was in the summer in Queluz, Portugal, near Lisbon. It was a dessert served cold in a restaurant near the Queluz National Palace. I’m a bit of a palace-touring junkie. I must be a longing for a past (or future?!) life. Perhaps that’s why I thought poached pears were so elegant.
But really, they couldn’t be simpler to make. Peel, core, and bathe pears in wine and spices. When you put it that way, it’s not at all threatening, is it?
What’s extra nice about this dessert is that it’s on the healthier spectrum and can be served hot or warm in the fall and winter, or chilled in the summer. They can be made with a wide variety of wines or sparkling wines and spices or herbs (e.g. a bay leaf, a sprig of tarragon or thyme, or lemon verbena).
As a bonus, they may even be made a couple of days in advance… You know, just in case the prince at the Palace wants one at a moment’s notice.
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Prosecco Poached Pears
- 4-6 ripe (but not overly) firm pears. D’anjou or Bartlett pears work well and are widely available
- 1 bottle (750 ml) prosecco or other sparkling wine, minus 1 cup
- 1 cup sugar
- Peels of half a lemon, plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 whole star anise
- 1/2 cinnamon stick
- Empty a bottle (minus one cup, reserve for later use) of prosecco or wine into a 3 or 4 -quart pot, just wide enough to hold 4-6 pears
- Add sugar, lemon peels and juice, star anise and cinnamon stick to the prosecco
- Peel pears, leaving stem intact. Core out the bottom of the pear using a paring knife or melon baller.
- As soon as you’ve peeled and cored each pear, place it in the prosecco and spoon the prosecco over it to prevent the pears from browning (the acid in the prosecco and lemon juice will prevent the pears from oxidizing)
- When all the pears have been peeled and cored, stand them upright in the pot and turn on the heat to high
- Bring the prosecco to a boil and then immediately reduce the heat to a low simmer and cover. Simmer for 20-30 minutes.
- When done, a knife should easily pierce the top and bottom of the pear. Start checking for doneness at 20 minutes. The amount of time needed will depend on the ripeness of the pears
- Using a slotted spoon, remove the pears to a platter or bowl
- Return the prosecco to a medium-high heat. Uncovered, reduce the liquid by half. Strain out the lemon peels, star anise and cinnamon stick and discard
- If serving hot or warm, place each pear in its own serving bowl, and pour the prosecco over each pear, pooling the liquid at the bottom of each bowl. Serve with a spoon or fork
- If serving cold, put all the pears into a clean bowl and pour the prosecco over all the pears. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate until ready to serve
- If making these days in advance and you want to serve them warm, cool as described, above. About 60 minutes before serving, bring the pears and prosecco to room temperature, and then simmer in a pot until warmed through (about 10 – 15 minutes)
- What to do with the remaining 1 cup of prosecco? Drink it with your poached pear!