Monday, December 20, 2010

Gluhwein Poached Pears

Serves 4
While in Germany over Christmas, Rich and I visited Rothenburg, the oldest walled city in the country. We entered the city and climbed its famous watch tower. After a few hours of walking, our hands were frigid and our spirits sagging. We walked out of the watch tower onto a brick square where a brass band played. I ordered a bratwurst in a Kaiser roll and a cup of gluhwein and sat on the ice-cold steps of the courthouse. Some meals in your life are just the best meals you’ve ever had, not because they were elaborate or fancy, but because it was just good, honest food at a time when you needed. Food has an amazing power like that, to just be magical. Snow melted into my gluhwein and I felt my icy disposition melting too. We listened to the band play, just a little out of tune due to the weather, but somehow that was all part of the magic. These poached pears bring back that day for me.

4 ripe but firm Bosc pears, peeled
1 bottle dry red wine, such as Cabernet
3 tablespoons sugar
1 orange, sliced in thin circles
2 cinnamon sticks
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup egg nog
Whole nutmeg, about ½ teaspoon finely grated
4 store bought shortbread cookies
2 ounces dark chocolate
Peel the pears and cut off a small cylinder from each bottom so they will stand upright.
Heat the wine and sugar in a small sauce pan until the sugar dissolves. Stand the pears up so that the liquid comes up just to each of their tops. They should be somewhat close in the pan to prevent any from floating and bobbing away. Add the cinnamon sticks and orange slices and simmer for 20 minutes uncovered.
While the pears are cooking, melt the chocolate and drizzle over each of the shortbread cookies. Allow to cool and harden slightly.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the heavy cream until thick but not stiff, then fold in the eggnog and nutmeg.
Remove the pears from the heat and place each one on individual serving dishes.
Garnish each pear with the nutmeg cream and a chocolate shortbread cookie.

Side note: Although some of the alcohol burns off during the cooking process this dessert is best saved for adult diners.

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