Red Wine Poached Pears

red wine poached pears

Impressive, spectacular, elegant, fancy: a few words popping to my mind when I look at poached pears. They are complicated only until you try making them though, because actually this dessert is really easy. Hint: Holiday Table Showstopper.

When it comes to fall fruits, pears usually take the backseat to apples in terms of popularity. Why, I don’t know. Next time you’re out grocery shopping or better yet, at the farmers market, be sure to pick some up either to make this beautiful dessert, to roast them with honey and walnuts, bake up a cake with or to enjoy along some good cheese.

I admit I made wine poached pears last weekend because I was too ashamed to make mulled wine. The weather is still very much summery here with high temps and lots of sun, and you start drinking mulled wine when the cold rainy days hit… right?! Not me. I am already in the mood for mulled wine, in fact I’m rarely ever not in mulled wine mood. I should be the ambassador for this drink, if such a title exists.

Aaanyhow. For poaching, you’ll need pears that keep their shape when cooked, so look for firmer varieties. Any pear that is not overly ripe is ok, but mushy and bruised ones are not the way to go.

Poached pears take a little time to make but lucky for us, most of that time is hands-off.

First you put together the poaching liquid – spiced wine in this case (I used a Cabernet). Be sure to buy a decent bottle! When choosing wine for cooking there’s really no need for top shelf, but remember to always get something you’d be willing to drink. And you are not limited to red wine either – white wine, moscato, champagne, even chai tea works great for poaching fruits.

While the spices are infusing the liquid (and I get my fix of mulled wine smell), peel the pears: work in long, even strokes, leaving the stems on. If you want to serve your poached pears upright, slice the bottoms flat.

Next, transfer pears to poaching liquid. Depending on size and firmness, it takes 20-30 minutes of gentle simmer for the pears to get nice and tender. Turn them with a slotted spoon occasionally to ensure even cooking and color. Pro tip: put a small plate over them to weigh down if necessary.

The longer the pears sit in the flavorful spiced wine, the better they’ll taste so if you are making this recipe ahead, cool the fruit in the liquid once cooked and refrigerate overnight. If you don’t have that much time on your hands, the poaching liquid can be cooked down to a syrup immediately after the pears are ready.

The last step is to remove the pears from the wine and to reduce the liquid to a thin syrup. You do this by bringing the poaching liquid to a boil, than lower the heat to a steady simmer and cooking it down to about half its original volume, stirring occasionally.

Poached pears are great served chilled or warm (you can reheat them gently). Provide your guests with both a fork and a spoon – a fork to help secure the pear and the spoon to eat it with. Serve pears drizzled with the syrup, add a dollop of whipped cream, greek yogurt, whipped mascarpone, or vanilla ice-cream, and for some added texture, sprinkle with crunchy hazelnut croquant or toasted sliced almonds.

Red Wine Poached Pears

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Spectacular yet easy poached pears in a spiced red wine syrup. Serves 4.

Ingredients

1 bottle dry red wine

½ cup sugar

1 cinnamon stick

4 cloves

2 allspice

4 firm, ripe pears

Directions

  1. Combine wine, sugar and spices in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 min. While liquid is infusing, peel pears.
  2. Place pears in poaching liquid, simmer for 20-30 minutes turning occasionally. Pears should be cooked but still firm.
  3. Remove and discard spices, set pears aside. Bring poaching liquid to a boil, lower heat to medium and cook until reduced by half and syrupy, about 30 min. (Alternatively, cool pears in liquid to room temperature, than refrigerate 2 hours or up to 24 hours. Reduce wine before serving.)
  4. Place pears on serving plates, drizzle with sauce and serve with vanilla ice-cream sprinkled with hazelnut croquant. Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

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Mother’s Day Gift Idea: Flavored Sugars

infused sugar

I’ve first encountered flavored sugars at my local Lidl, and even though I consider myself a conscious consumer, the marketing totally worked. I mean let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want something called Deluxe Baked Apple Flavour Sugar? Especially on a dark and rainy fall afternoon.

Although I love this product, at one point I started thinking how difficult could it be to make something similar at home. A quick Pinterest search later I realized these fancy sugars are a hit! Bonus points for being inexpensive and virtually endless in variety.

Anything you’d use plain white sugar in/on can be spruced up with infused sugars: they are wonderful to have on hand for stirring into coffee, sprinkling over oatmeal, waffles, pancakes, cookies, even to garnish the rim of a cocktail glass. They take anything up a notch.

The technique for making infused sugars is so straightforward I wouldn’t even call it a recipe, pretty much like infused salts. You will need 4 parts plain ol’ granulated sugar, brown sugar or powdered sugar, plus 1 part flavor of your choosing. Let the sugar sit for at least one week to get optimal flavor.

Spices may be added ground or whole, or both for a pretty presentation (you can always strain the infused sugar into a separate bowl before using to flavor something where bigger particles are not welcome).

Store your creations in small airtight jars (I love these affordable ones from Ikea). My  vanilla-cinnamon sugar is kept in a sifter-shaker so it’s ready for a generous dusting whenever inspiration strikes, which is often.

Flavored sugars made with dry ingredients (like vanilla, cinnamon or culinary-grade lavender) last for months, while varieties with wet ingredients (like fresh mint leaves or citrus rind) have a shorter shelf life of a few weeks. Don’t forget to mark the date you made each batch on the container. Your infusion might clump up a little while drying, but a good shake helps break it up before using.

Consider creating a gift set for Mother’s Day with nice tags and suggestions to use. Have fun experimenting with interesting flavor combinations, and don’t forget to tell me about it!

Love,

Fruzsi

*Disclaimer: I like and use products mentioned in posts on My Chest of Wonders, what I write about such items represent my genuine and unbiased opinion. I am not being compensated through sponsorship, commissions or gifts. No affiliate links are included in this post.*

Friday Finds

Winter is the time for comfort, good food, for warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and a talk beside the fire: it is a time for home.

Edith Sitwell

Lonely tree (‘Planinsko polje XXVIX’ photo by Gorazd Kranjc):

lonely tree in snow

Make this the year:

danielle doby quote

Frozen lake (photo by Marja K.):

frozen boat

Fox in the snow (photo via imgfave):

snowy fox

Fig, Vanilla Bean + Gin Cocktail (by Sarah of The Homemade Haus):

fig vanilla gin cocktail

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi

You Asked So Here It Is: Vanilla Brioche

vanilla brioche

After the post about yeast dough and my favorite cookbook on home baking, many of you requested that I share some recipes. And I’d love to oblige of course! The recipes in said book however are copyrighted material owned by the publisher, and I take intellectual property seriously.

But good news! Because of the high demand I’ve contacted Marcsi, the author and face behind Limara Péksége and she was kind enough to agree that I translate and convert recipes from her blog to share with you guys.

I’ve chosen her amazingly soft and fluffy vanilla brioche, a spectacular pastry looking like you picked it up from a chic high street French bakery. It’s guaranteed to impress with it’s fancy voluted shape, yet it’s much less difficult to make than you’d think.

Brioche, sometimes also referred to as the queen of yeast doughs, is a leavened Viennoiserie (the group of Viennese-style baked goods): it is made like bread, but has the richness of pastry because of the added eggs, butter, milk and sugar.

It is common to fill brioche with both sweet and savoury fillings although in this recipe, the vanilla is kneaded straight into the dough itself. Those lovely, tiny black seeds! Also this time, I had some leftover sliced almonds from Christmas baking which I sprinkled the chignons with (optional).

Rich and tender, this sweet treat is perfect for breakfast with butter and homemade jam, or would be an amazing snack to accompany a steaming cup of tea, latte, or hot chocolate and a girly chat.

They are best eaten fresh and warm, but stay soft and very enjoyable the day after thanks to the butter content.

vanilla brioche with almonds

And now without further ado, the recipe as promised:

Vanilla Brioche

  • Difficulty: medium
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Recipe adapted from Limara Péksége.

Ingredients

600 g/1.32 lbs all-purpose flour

seeds of 1 vanilla pod, scraped out

1 tsp salt

3 tbsp granulated sugar

1 egg + 1 yolk of an egg

3 tbsp sunflower oil

300 ml/10.1 fl oz warm milk

30 g (1.06 oz) fresh yeast or 9 g (1/3 oz) active dry yeast

150 g/5.3 oz butter, room temperature

1 egg whisked, for eggwash

Directions

  1. If using fresh yeast, add 1 tbsp sugar to 1/3 of the milk in a mug, crumble yeast in it and mix with 1 tbsp flour. Let yeast starter rise for 15 min, until top is crackled.
  2. If using dry yeast, sift it with the flour.
  3. Add all ingredients except butter to the bowl of an electric mixer attached with the dough hook, start kneading on low. After dough comes together, continue kneading on medium, for around 15 min.
  4. Cover, let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 min.
  5. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide to 6 or 12 equal parts, depending on how big brioches you want.
  6. Roll out dough balls to 6 mm / 1/4″ thickness and spread 1/6 or 1/12 of the butter on each. (Step A)
  7. Beginning with the long side, roll up buttered dough jelly roll fashion, to form approx. 40 cm/15.5” length ropes. (Step B)
  8. Make the chignons, tucking the end of the dough underneath. (Step C)
  9. Lay brioches on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper, keeping enough distance between them and let rise for 45 min or until doubled in size.
  10. Preheat oven to 180°C/355°F. Wash brioches with the egg, than bake for around 20 min, until golden.
  11. Cool on a rack.

making brioche step 1
Step A
making brioche step 2
Step B
making brioche step 3
Step C

Enjoy!

Love,

Fruzsi

Friday Finds

In the waiting, great things can happen. Happy third weekend of Advent!

Swedish Christmas decor inspiration by Granit:

granit jul greens

Being real requires some courage:

authenticity

Natural birch bark ornaments by Vibeke Design:

birch bark stars

Your feathered friends need you! Great tit in snow via Ruth Burt International:

great tit in the snow

Vanilla crescents, Europe’s most popular Christmas cookie (image by Fork and Flower):

vanilla crescents

Happy weekend!

Fruzsi