Wine Poached Pears with a Chocolate Bottom
- 6-8 smallish pears
- 1 bottle wine, preferably medium-dry. You can use red or white. If you use red, the pears will take on the color. I used white here.
- 1/2 cup sugar(with a bit extra as needed)
- 1 tsp cinnamon (or one stick cinnamon)
- a pinch of ground cloves or a few whole cloves
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger (or some slices of ginger)
- 200 grams/7 oz high quality dark chocolate (if you want to make this vegan, make sure you use a vegan chocolate)
- Almonds or other nuts of your choice, finely ground (optional)
- Finely shredded coconut (optional)
1. Make the wine syrup: in a wide flat pot combine the wine, sugar and spices. Cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar dissolves. Check if the syrup is sweet enough and add a bit more sugar if not. It should be somewhat sweet but not overly so.
2. Meanwhile, prepare the pears: slice the bottom off of each pear, so that they can stand. Using a paring knife or a melon-baller to take out the core of the pear from the bottom, trying to leave as much of the flesh intact as possible. Peel each pear from the top down, leaving the stem.
3. Place the pears in the pot, bottom down, and poach for about 10 minutes, then plop the pears on their sides so that the tops cook properly as well. The pears are ready when you can easily stick a toothpick or fork into the flesh, but they do not fall apart and still retain their shape. Do NOT overcook them. Remove from heat and allow the pears to cool down inside the liquid. When the pears are cool enough to touch, remove them with a slotted spoon (or by gently taking them out with the stems) - reserving the liquid - and place them on a plate to dry off. Take a clean empty plate and place it in the freezer to use in prepping the pears.
4. Reduce the syrup: put the pot with the liquid back on a medium flame, and cook until it is somewhat thickened and reduced by about half. Remove from heat and reserve the liquid.
5. Melt the chocolate in a relatively small heat-proof bowl, either in a double boiler or in the microwave. (You want to make sure that the bowl is small enough that you can easily dip the pears in the chocolate). In a bowl or on a plate combine the almonds/nuts and coconut.
6. When the pears are relatively dry, take the clean plate out from the freezer. Gently take each pear by the stem or top, and dip the bottom in the chocolate. Try to make sure that the chocolate not only covers the bottom of the pear but also fills the hollow core. Dip the chocolate covered pear in the nut mixture, and place on the cold plate to harden. Do this for all the pears.
7. Allow the pears to harden on the plate. If it's a warm day or the chocolate won't harden, refrigerate the pears for a bit to help the process. Serve each pear on a plate with some of the reduced syrup. You can also add some nice ice cream to make it even better.