Wine-poached pears with Vanilla ‘mousse – Woolworths/Masterchef SA series

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Wine-poached pears with Vanilla 'mousse'

I’m not usually the biggest fan of the humble pear. I think they are beautiful to look at and every photographer’s dream, but I have never loved their texture or flavour. I find them to be either rock hard or so soft and furry, eating them reminds you of chewing on a mohair blanket. Not exactly appetising!
Wine-poached pears with Vanilla 'mousse'
However, when pears are poached, they take on a whole different persona and it’s one I quite like. Their flavour becomes more pronounced as they absorb the poaching liquid ever so gently and their texture becomes pleasant to eat.
Wine-poached pears with Vanilla 'mousse'
I chose to poach the pears in a ‘stock’ made from Pinot Grigio, water, sugar and a fresh vanilla pod (the seeds I had scraped out and reserved for the ‘mousse’ that would be served with the pears). I also decided to slice the peeled pears in half and scoop out the seeds instead of leaving them whole as is often done. I did this because I think the halved pears look so much more beautiful served but also because they cook so much quicker. I allowed the pears to poach for 10-15 minutes until the tip of a knife could be easily inserted. You want the pears to be cooked but still keep their shape.
As for the vanilla ‘mousse’, I call it a ‘mousse’ as it’s made in the same way as I start all my mousses but instead of leaving it to set I simply chilled it in the fridge for 20 minutes while I got on with the pears and then served it, while still soft but airy, with the pears and the reduced syrup made from the poaching liquid.
Wine-poached pears with Vanilla 'mousse'
This would make a delicious and simple dessert for a chic dinner party but I quite enjoyed eating the ‘uglier’ pears, stove-side, as I got ready to style and shoot their prettier brothers and sisters.
Serves 4
for the vanilla ‘mousse’
3 egg whites (I used extra-large free-range egg whites)
4 T caster sugar
250ml cream
seeds from 1 vanilla pod
for the poached pears
4 pears, peeled, halved and cores removed
1 1/2 cups white wine of your choice (I used Pinot Grigio)
enough water to cover the pears (approximately 750ml)
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla pod, seeds removed and kept aside for the ‘mousse’

  1. Start with the vanilla ‘mousse’. Place the egg whites in a clean, dry bowl and whisk until light and frothy. Add the sugar spoon by spoon whilst continuously whisking until the egg whites are thick, glossy and form stiff peaks.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the cream until stiff peaks form. Mix in the vanilla seeds.
  3. Gently fold the egg whites into the cream and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
  4. To poach the pears, place the prepared pears in a medium saucepan and cover with the wine, water and sugar. Add the vanilla pod and bring to a simmer.
  5. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes until the pears are cooked but still hold their shape.
  6. Remove the pears from the liquid and set aside.
  7. Turn the heat up and allow the poaching liquid to reduce and thicken (approximately 20 minutes on high heat). Keep an eye on it though as you don’t want it to burn.
  8. When you are ready to serve, place two pears on each plate, drizzle some of the syrup over and add a generous dollop of vanilla ‘mousse’.
  9. Serve immediately.

To see the original post, visit Woolworths Pantry

Alida Ryder
Alida Ryder
Being a general food freak has proven to be quite helpful in this career I've found myself in. Author of two cookbooks, photographer, food stylist. Mom to twins. Ex make-up and hair artist obsessed with beautiful clothes and spaces. I love a good G&T and I've been known to spend too much money on shoes.
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