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I am kinda obsessed with easy fruit desserts. Apple crisp, strawberry shortcake, and the most gorgeous and easiest dessert of them all — port-poached pears.

Poaching the pears in port turns them ruby red, and the wintery spices give the pears a refined flavor and elegance. It’s a simple dessert that can be served with ice cream or by itself.

Port is a sweet fortified wine from Portugal typically served with desserts. If you’ve ever had a wine tasting that ended with a port and chocolate pairing you know what I mean!


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Old World Wine Lesson: Produced exclusively in the Douro Valley in Portugal, port gets its name from the coastal city of Porto. The Douro wine region is the third oldest protected one in the world, after Tokaj in Hungary and Chianti in Tuscany.

How To Make Port-Poached Pears

Simmer the port with sugar and spices: star anise, cinnamon stick and cloves. Then let the peeled pears soak in their port bath until they are a deep shade of red on all sides.

Take them out to cool, and turn up the heat to reduce the remaining port into a thick, sweet, spiced syrup.

You can make these in advance and let the pears chill out in the fridge until time to serve.


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I used Sandeman Ruby Port, which is widely available and the cheapest type of port. The Napa Valley also produces some great ports, and you can even do port tasting tours there at places like Prager Winery and Port Works.

Poaching pears in port and spices made my house smell wonderful. It was absolutely delicious with Egg Nog gelato too!

   

Port-Poached Pears

Beautiful and easy poached fruit dessert

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 pears (Bosc is best, a little underripe)
  • 2 cups port
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Lemon peel, 2″x2″, sliced in thin strips
  • 2 star anise pods (See Notes)
  • 5 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • Instructions

    1. Heat port on medium in a large stock pot. Stir in sugar until dissolved. Add cloves, star anise, cinnamon stick and lemon peel. Simmer for 5-10 minutes to let the flavors blend.
    2. Meanwhile, peel the pears. Use a paring knife if necessary around the stem to get all the peel off. Slice off 1/4 inch from the bottom of each pear so pears can stand.
    3. Simmer pears on their sides, covered, in spiced port for 20-40 minutes, depending on how ripe they are. Turn every 5 minutes or so to ensure that all sides get submerged.
    4. To make syrup: Remove pears from pot using tongs or a slotted spoon. Turn up heat to medium-high and reduce port to a syrup (which is when the liquid sticks to the back of a spoon).
    5. Let pears cool in syrup. Serve pears in individual bowls with syrup and ice cream if desired. Pears can be served chilled or at room temperature.

    Notes

    Whole Star Anise pods are so striking! If you can’t find them in the grocery store, you can order this 7-ounce package of star anise pods online.