A poached pear dripping in syrup with stem intact makes an incredible presentation. Serve this version made with white wine, apple cider, and vanilla bean as an unexpected and festive dessert. Since the pears can be prepared ahead of time and left chilled, you enjoy the cooking process without feeling rushed. The syrup is so delicious that any extra can be drizzled over a slice of pound cake later that night or over crepes the next morning.
When selecting pears to poach, Bosc are my preferred variety for their slightly sweet, crisp flavor. They generally sit taller on the plate than other pears, but I like to mix it up by selecting some shorter, more plump ones for variety. Pick those that are perfectly ripe and have their stems firmly in place.
On the day I was making this recipe, we had our first few flurries of the season. There is a crispness to the scent of snow about to fall that marries so well with freshly peeled pear. Split open a vanilla bean, pour some white wine, and add apple cider, and now it smells like winter is almost here.
4 Bosc pears
3 cups white wine
1 ½ cups apple cider
⅓ cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
Candied ginger for topping (optional)
Peel the pears making sure to leave the stems intact. Slice the bottom just enough to give each pear a flat surface on which to stand. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds.
In a medium saucepan combine the white wine, apple cider, sugar, vanilla bean and seeds then add the pears. The pears should be covered by the liquid. Bring the contents to a boil and then simmer for about 20 to 25 minutes, until the pears are fully cooked and tender but not too soft.
Remove the pears from the liquid, allow to cool, and chill until ready to serve. Reduce the liquid until you have about one cup of syrup, which also should be cooled and chilled prior to serving.
Place one pear on the center of a dessert plate or bowl and pour a generous amount of syrup over it. Serve with a few pieces of julienned or sliced candied ginger on the side.