Chef Rob Mafucci
Vito's, www.vitosct.com, Hartford, CT
- 4 pears (preferably Bosc)
- 1 bottle of Merlot
- 3 cups sugar
- ½ stalk vanilla bean
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- ½ tsp whole cloves
- 1 pinch black peppercorns
- 3 bay leaves
- Ingredients for Apricot Mascarpone Cream:
- 2 cups Mascarpone cheese
- 2 to 3 Tbsp heavy cream
- ¼ cup confectioner's sugar
- 1 ½ Tbsp apricot brandy
- 4 mint sprigs
Peel and core pears. Place all ingredients in a saucepan on medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, cover, then simmer on low heat until pears are soft and have taken on the color of the Merlot, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Place the saucepan, with all ingredients, in refrigerator overnight.
The following day, remove the pears from the sauce. Place the saucepan, with its poaching liquids, on medium-high heat and cook until liquids are reduced to a syrup (with a consistency that clings to a spoon).
Mix the Mascarpone cheese, 2 Tbsp of heavy cream, and sugar in a food processor. Add remaining Tbsp of cream for a smoother texture. Place the mixture into a small pastry bag and keep refrigerated until ready to use.
When ready to serve, slice the pears in half and place one half pear in the center of a plate. Using a small ladle pour the merlot syrup over the pear. Pipe a small dollop of the Mascarpone mixture on the side of the pear and garnish with a mint sprig. Serves 4-6
Recommended wine/beer for Poached Pears with Apricot Mascarpone Cream:
Remo Farina 2005 Ripasso Valpolicella Classico Superiore [Veneto, Italy]
Ripasso Valpolicella is a somewhat dry red wine that is meant to go with cheese and fruit. As you might guess, it is not exactly a dessert wine. But then pears poached in dry red wine and filled with cheese are at least as much a dinner’s final course as they are a sweet dessert. In my four years of picking wines for this program, this is my first attempt at conducting an experiment with dessert.
Related to Amarone, though neither as rich nor as heavy, Ripasso undergoes a second fermentation by the addition of the gross lees from Amarone. This peculiar cellar treatment imparts added depth and complexity to the wine. The final result is a marriage between Valpolicella’s fruitiness and Amarone’s richness. Farino’s Ripasso will also bring out the savory notes of pears poached in wine and the creaminess of the Mascarpone. Sometimes it just makes sense to go out on a limb; the reward can be a wonderfully adventurous and excitingly new taste sensation.