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Pears baked in spiced red wine with walnut and orange cream (V)


Whole pears look very dramatic on the plate and these take on a lovely pink colour from the red wine. It's best served cold, so make ahead of time and leave the pears to cool to room temperature. When I served them recently, I completely forgot that a normal dessert spoon/fork is not really adequate to deal with these - so make sure your guests have knives available as well.


Serves 4


For the pears

4 small-to-medium pears, it doesn't matter if they are a little underripe

1 glass red wine

1 tbsp sugar

1 orange

1 vanilla pod (split open)

1 stick cinnamon

a pinch of all spice

a pinch of grated nutmeg

100g walnuts


For the cream

100g walnuts

100g mascapone

a little orange juice



Pre heat the oven to 220°C.


Zest the orange and squeeze out the juice. In a small oven proof dish, mix the red wine with the zest, half the orange juice and all the spices. Split open the vanilla pod, scrape out the seeds and add both seeds and pod to the spiced wine.


Peel the pears, leaving the stalks on and chop a very thin slice off the bottom so they will stand upright. Put them into the dish with the wine, scatter with the walnuts and bake for 30-40 minutes until tender, but still solid and holding their shape. I like them a little crunchy rather than mushy. You will need to turn and/or baste them several times during cooking to ensure they are evenly cooked and coloured by the wine.


When cooked, remove pears and walnuts from the cooking liquid and leave to cool. Reduce the cooking syrup by about half.


Toast the remaining walnuts in a dry pan until warm and nutty. Crush them to a paste, and mix in the mascapone, the remaining orange juice and sugar to taste.


On each plate, place one pear, upright, a spoonful of walnuts and a dollop of walnut cream. Drizzle over a little reduced syrup and serve.

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