There’s something about the Fall air that makes eating family meals at the table a little more special, with fresh cooked food steaming off the plates and the easy flowing conversations and laughter, all filling the house with warmth. Desserts are typically warm too, with pies and puddings getting taken out of the oven just before digging in, with the able help of overused mitts ridden with burnt brown splotches, triggering memories of past seasons, and bringing to us the aromas of stone fruits and caramel, roasted nuts and woodsy spices. The colors of these meals and desserts seem to complement those outside adequately, and the smell of Winter appears to be near..riding piggyback, as it were, on the blustery winds. Some mulled wine and soft jazz would indeed complete the scene, unless of course you choose to pour the wine into a pot and steep fruits in it. Here’s our take on a classic Fall/ Winter dessert..perfect to round off a hearty and heartwarming family meal, this time of the year.
Red Wine Poached Fruit
- 500 ml dry red wine
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 2-3 cloves
- 1 star anise
- 2-3 pieces of fresh orange peels*
- 1 small vanilla bean
- 5 firm apples or pears or a mix, firm and ripe
- Select a saucepan that can hold all the fruit fairly snugly without too much of empty space around it, but the fruit should not be squashed together either. Pour the wine into the empty pan and add the sugar, spices and peels.
- Bring the wine to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer.
- Meanwhile peel the fruit, keeping the stems intact. Cut away a thin slice from the bottoms so that it can sit stably.
- Place the fruit in the hot poaching liquid, cover and continue to simmer for about 20-30 minutes (depending on how big and how firm the fruit is). Every few minutes turn the fruit to ensure even poaching on all sides.
- Once the fruit is cooked but still firm, turn off the heat, uncover and allow the pot to cool. This can be done a day earlier and you can cover and place the entire pot in the fridge overnight.
- Remove the fruit from the poaching liquid and place in a shallow serving bowl.
- Bring the poaching liquid back to a simmer and cook on low heat for 15-20 minutes or until it turns slightly thick and syrupy. Cool the syrup.
- Drizzle the syrup over the fruit and serve at room temperature.
* – Just take the peels off a firm fresh orange with a vegetable peeler. Remove any white pith if it comes along.
Serve the pears with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream and some toasted walnuts if you care for them.