55g (2 oz) caster sugar
½ bottle (375ml) Muscat wine
4 cardamom pods
Rind of 1 lemon, peeled off in one piece
6 Conference pears, with the stalks on
This is such an elegant dessert and looks beautiful when simply presented with a few artful drizzles of sauce. Slow poaching will make even the hardest of pears tender and the light fruitiness of this dish can come as a delightful palette quencher after a rich heavy meal.
Place the sugar and wine into a saucepan, heat on the simmering plate to dissolve the sugar. Meanwhile open the cardamom pods to release the seeds. Crush the seeds in a pestle and mortar and add to the heated wine, together with the curl of lemon rind.
Peel the pears, making sure to leave the stalk intact – not only does this look better but it also provides a ‘handle’ to lift the pears in and out of the pan. Remove a thin slice from the base of the pear so that it will stand up on its own. Place the pears into the hot aromatic wine bring to the boil, turn the pears over and cover the saucepan.
Place the saucepan on the floor of the simmering oven for about 2 hours, until the pears are tender. If the liquid does not cover the pears, turn them over after an hour of cooking so they cook evenly. Remove the pears from the saucepan and stand them up on a serving plate.
Reduce the liquid by boiling rapidly until it becomes syrupy, strain and serve the pears with a little Muscat sauce poured over. Place any remaining sauce in a jug to serve separately. Delicious accompanied with cream and a crisp biscuit.