Poached pears with mascarpone

Photographer: Adam
Serves 6

Being a fan of puddings, desserts and generally all things treat-like, I love to serve a sweet course to finish a meal. The nice thing about this dessert is that it is sweet without being sickly, and all those who try to refuse dessert because they are ‘just too full’ (wimps!) can be persuaded to partake because, well, it’s only a little fruit and cheese after all.

The classic combination of pears, red wine and mascarpone is built upon by the addition of heady spices, the result being quite delicious. This is a classic and never fails to impress. I usually double the recipe—that way I have a couple of spares if any of the pears look a little less than perfect after cooking, and these keep well in the fridge for about a week—serve leftovers cold, sliced over vanilla ice-cream. These are great when made the day before as it gives the flavours plenty of time to develop, and it is super easy to simply heat and fill the pears just prior to serving.


6 pears, I used Bosch but you could also use Bartlett
375 ml (half a bottle) red wine – I used Cab Sav
375 ml water
3/4 cups sugar
peel of half an orange
2 cinnamon sticks
1 whole star anise
1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
5 cardamom pods
2 whole cloves
5 black peppercorns
100g mascarpone
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 vanilla pod, split and scraped
1-2 tbsp honey (to taste)


1. In a large saucepan bring the wine, water, sugar, orange peel, cinnamon sticks, star anise, vanilla (pod and scrapings), cardamom pods, cloves and peppercorns to the boil.
2. While this is coming up to temperature, peel and core the pears, leaving the stems intact. Slice a little off the bottom of each pear so that they sit upright on a flat surface.
3. Place the pears in the mulled wine mixture, reduce the heat and simmer gently for around half an hour (until the pears are tender – time will depend on how ripe your pears are).
4. Once the pears are tender, take the pot off the heat, cover and leave to cool.
5. Leave the pears in the mulled wine for a couple of hours or overnight – the longer you leave them the more intense the flavours will be.
6. To serve warm, gently bring the pears and mulled wine to a rolling boil. Remove pears, drain and set aside to be filled with mascarpone.
7. Sieve the mulled wine, return to saucepan, and then simmer until it reduces down to syrup.
8. While the syrup is reducing, mix together mascarpone, cinnamon, scrapings from the vanilla pod, and honey, and fill a piping bag.
9. Take each poached pear and fill the cavity left from coring. Place upright on a serving dish, or individual plates.
10. Pour hot syrup over pears and serve immediately. Any leftover mascarpone can be served on the side, or in a separate dish.