Fifteen years ago, in 2006, I posted this recipe of a personal favorite dessert, poached pears with raspberry sauce. This is an elegant, festive, relative easy dessert and always seems to be a crowd favorite. While I make an extra effort to have it at least once during the Christmas holidays, in Manila, it’s really dependent on when the import gods manage to bring in good Bosc pears. Yes, the pear variety matters. If you really can’t find Bosc pears, you could substitute just ripe Anjou pears as a second choice.
So a few days ago, we needed a few ingredients and popped into Landmark grocery (I love their comprehensive selection of goods, but rarely go myself these days) and it’s only my second visit in nearly two years. Lo and behold, right at the entryway, were a display of neglected and unloved Bosc pears, so I bought a few. Over the years, my recipe for this dessert has evolved, and to be honest, I don’t really follow a recipe, so this is how I did this version, and it worked beautifully.
Into a snug-ish pot that will fit your pears and the poaching liquid, add half a bottle or so of red wine (a Cabernet Sauvignon for instance), some water, a cinnamon stick, two star anise, 5 cloves and 3-4 thin orange peel pieces. Add 3/4 cup or so of sugar and bring to a simmer and dissolve sugar.
Meanwhile, peel pears (preferably leaving the stems on) and slice off the bottom so they stand securely and gently add them to the just simmering wine and spice liquid. Simmer covered for some 20-25 minutes and turn it off. Oh, I forgot, liquid should come up to about 3/4 of the height of the pear. Then at ten minutes roll the pears so all areas cook. This is intentional, as the meatier bottom 3/4 will take more time to poach than the thinner tops. When the time is up, stand pears up, cover and let them steep in the liquid for say 3 hours. Take the pears out and refrigerate before serving. This can be done earlier in the day if serving them for dessert at dinner.
Reserve a cup of the poaching liquid and throw the rest out, spices included. In the same pan, add several cups of frozen or fresh raspberries, say half a cup of the poaching liquid and say 3/4 or more of a cup of sugar and bring to a simmer. After a few minutes simmering, blitz in a blender and pass through a fine sieve. Cool and chill, this is your raspberry sauce. Taste this sauce, sometimes I forget and its sometime too tart, a nice balance of sour and sweet is always good.
To serve, place an individual pear on a plate, drizzle over some of the raspberry sauce and put a dollop of heavy cream or creme fraiche on the side and garnish with mint leaves. Because most of the prep can be done well ahead of the meal, this is a great dessert for a fancy holiday meal. But we just had it the other day after a hearty lunch of beef bulalo soup and it worked just as well. :)