Roasting pears in wine transforms them from everyday fruit into a light but luxurious dinner party dessert. Their gentle flavour makes a perfect foil for a fine dessert wine. The trick is to use an inexpensive wine for cooking and a better wine of the same type to serve with it.
Freshly squeezed juice of 1 large lemon
9 medium just-ripe Conference pears
50 g (3 ½ tablespoons) butter, softened
3 tablespoons clear fragrant honey, such as orange blossom
175 ml (¾ cup) Premières Côtes de Bordeaux or a late harvested Sauvignon or Sémillon
50 g (½ cup) pine nuts
2 teaspoons caster/granulated sugar
200 ml (1 scant cup) double/heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla sugar
A large ovenproof dish, buttered (large enough to take the pears in a single layer)
Preheat the oven to 190˚C (375˚F) Gas 5.
Strain the lemon juice into a small bowl. Cut the pears in half, peel them and remove the cores. Dip the pear halves in the lemon juice (this will prevent them discoloring), then put them, cut-sides upwards, in the prepared ovenproof dish. Make sure the pears fit snugly in one layer. Put a small knob of butter in the hollow of each pear, then drizzle them with the honey, wine and any remaining lemon juice.
Bake the pears in the preheated oven for 50–60 minutes, turning the pears over halfway through. If you notice while the pears are cooking that they are producing a lot of juice, increase the oven temperature to 200˚C (400˚F) Gas 6 to concentrate the juices and form a syrup. Remove the pears from the oven and let cool for about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, lightly toast the pine nuts in a dry, non-stick frying pan/skillet, shaking the pan occasionally, until they start to brown. Sprinkle over the sugar and continue to cook until the sugar melts and caramelizes. Put the cream and vanilla sugar in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring occasionally, until lukewarm.
To serve, put three pear halves on each plate and spoon over some of their cooking syrup. Trickle over 1 tablespoon warm cream and scatter over a few caramelized pine nuts. Alternatively, serve the cream separately for your guests to pour over.
Pairing: This is a good dessert to pair with a Sauternes or another sweet Bordeaux.
Excerpted from Wine Lover’s Kitchen by Fiona Beckett, published by Ryland Peters & Small, $37.50. Copyright © 2017. Photography by Mowie Kay. Used with permission by the publisher.
This original recipe first appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.