Spiced Stuffed Poached Pears in a Red Wine Sauce
dry red wine (enough to cover pears)
1 star anise
1 juniper berry
1/3 cup creme de cassis
Julienned zest from 1 bright-skinned orange (about 1 tablespoon)
2 whole cloves
1/4 cup agave or sugar
2 firm but ripe Bartlett pears, stems left on, peeled
1 (8 ounce) containers mascarpone cheese, softened
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
Combine all ingredients but pears in a large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Add pears and cover with a parchment round. Reduce to a simmer and cook until pears are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. If necessary, turn pears very gently by rotating the stems with your fingertips so they cook evenly.
Remove pears to a bowl, bring poaching liquid to a rapid boil, and reduce by half, about 10 minutes.
Pour reduced syrup over pears and refrigerate, covered, for at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
To serve: spoon some sauce onto individual plates
Scoop out bottom of pear with small spoon removing as much core as possible, leaving pear whole. Whisk together mascarpone cheese, heavy cream, pinch cinnamon and powdered sugar until smooth. Spoon filling into pears.Place pears on plates.
Toast almonds in a pan over high heat. Move almonds around so as not to burn. When almonds start browning, remove from heat and continue tossing until desired color, careful not to burn. Sprinkle on pears.