Food and Drink

Poached pears with red wine caramel are an easy make-ahead dessert for the holiday season

Poached pears with red wine caramel

Pears poached in red wine make for a festive and easy make-ahead dessert. Look for crisp — very slightly under-ripe — pears with no blemishes. Bosc or Anjou are winning options as they can withstand the heat of poaching. These can be served warm or chilled with the red wine caramel made from reducing the poaching liquid. Delicious as is or serve with crème fraîche, custard sauce, ice cream, or yogurt. — Kim Sunée

Poached pears with red wine caramel

Makes 6 servings

3 pears, such as Bosc or Anjou, peeled with stem intact

1 (750ml) bottle dry red wine

1/2 cup sugar

1 to 2 tablespoons honey (optional)


1 cinnamon stick or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 star anise (optional)

1/2 cup heavy cream

• Peel pears, keeping them whole and stem intact, and place in a deep pot filled with red wine, sugar, and spices. Bring to a gentle boil and reduce heat to medium-low. Poach pears, carefully turning occasionally for even coloring, 10 minutes. Test center of pear using a knife point; if it slides out easily the pear is ready. Otherwise, poach another five to 10 minutes and until pears are tender but not falling apart. Gently remove pears from liquid to a bowl or plate. Remove any whole spices, if using.

• Turn heat to medium-high and allow liquid to reduce, five to 10 minutes. Stir in cream; the mixture might look curdled but just whisk or stir until smooth. Reduce heat to medium and let cook another three to five minutes until thick and syrupy. Let cool. Both pears and sauce can be made ahead and chilled in fridge up to two days. When ready to serve, cut pears in half lengthwise. Place each half cut-side down on plate or cutting board. Starting about two thirds from the top, make 4 to 5 slices lengthwise into bottom half of each half. Gently press fingers over bottom sliced portion to fan out bottom part of pear. Drizzle with red wine caramel. Garnish, if desired, with toasted nuts, crème fraîche, custard sauce, ice cream, or yogurt.

Kim Sunée

Kim Sunée is a bestselling author ("Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love, and the Search for Home," "A Mouthful of Stars," "Everyday Korean: Fresh, Modern Recipes for Home Cooks") and a former magazine food editor. She's based in Anchorage. For more food and travel, visit