With Marsala as Pantone's 2015 colour of the year, this elegant dessert is right on trend. Adding cranberries to boost colour ?and flavour, as well as a cheesecake-inspired mascarpone accent, gives this classic dish a contemporary update.
2 medium ripe, but firm, pears with stems attached (Bosc or Forelles are best)
1 cup (250 mL) Marsala wine
1/2 cup (125 mL) water
1/2 cup (125 mL) white sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 strips orange peel 2 inches x 1/2z inch ?(5 cm x 1.25 cm)
2 cups (500 mL) fresh or frozen cranberries
3 tbsp (45 mL) mascarpone cheese
1 tsp (5 mL) white sugar
Peel pears with a sharp knife or peeler, leaving stems attached.
Using a grapefruit knife (or other sharp, small knife) carefully cut cores from bottom, leaving pear intact.
In a small pot just large enough to hold the pears on their sides, add Marsala, water, ?up / 125 mL sugar, cinnamon stick and orange peel. Bring to a boil to dissolve sugar.
Reduce heat to medium low and add the pears, then add cranberries, distributing between and around both pears.
Simmer, uncovered, on medium to medium-low heat for about 25 minutes or until pears feel tender when gently pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. While pears are poaching, very gently turn them over once or twice for even cooking.
Remove cooked pears very carefully and set them upright on a plate.
Strain the poaching liquid through cheesecloth or a fine sieve. Clean out pot and return the liquid to the pot. Cook over medium heat until it is reduced by half and thickened (about 10 minutes).
While syrup is reducing, whip mascarpone and 1 tsp / 5 mL sugar together with a fork.
To serve, place pears on individual plates. Drizzle with warm syrup and garnish with a dollop of sweetened mascarpone.
Make ahead: Poach pears up to 6 hours before serving and keep at room temperature. Do not reduce sauce until just before serving time as it will gel due to the pectin in the cranberries.