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Poached Pears with Mascarpone and Hazelnuts

From Italian Cooking and Living, December 2002/January 2003

For the pears:

  • 6 Bartlett pears
  • 1/2 bottle Asti Spumante
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 1 pinch nutmeg
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 5 whole black peppercorns

For the filling:

  • 1/4 pound hazelnuts, plus extra for garnish
  • 1 pound mascarpone
  • 1/2 pound confectioners' sugar
  • mint leaves for garnish
  • cinnamon for garnish
  1. Peel the pears but leave the stems on. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Using a melon baller, remove about 3/4 of the pear core from the bottom up, including the seeds. Hollow it out almost to the stem.
  3. Place pears and the rest of the pear ingredients (through peppercorns), in a heavy-bottomed stock pot with 11/2 cups of water. Cover the pot, and boil over medium heat until pears are fork tender, about 15 to 20 minutes. Remove pears from pot, reserve sauce, and allow to cool. Refrigerate pears.
  4. Reduce pear sauce on high heat for about 10 minutes or until sauce coats the back of a metal spoon. Strain sauce with a small sieve, and set aside.
  5. Roast hazelnuts in the oven until they darken slightly and you can smell them. When cool, remove skins by rubbing the nuts together in your hands. Crush skinned hazelnuts with the flat side of a knife or in a food processor. Fold nuts into the mascarpone along with the powdered sugar. Place in pastry bag and set aside.
  6. Using a star-tipped pastry bag, fill the cored pears with the sweetened mascarpone mixture .
  7. Place each stuffed pear in the center of a dessert plate. Use remaining mascarpone mixture to garnish the plates. Pour 2 to 3 tablespoons of reserved poaching liquid over each pear. Garnish with mint leaves, hazelnuts and cinnamon. Serves 6



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