Red Wine Vanilla Poached Pears

It snowed this past weekend! I know, we live in Michigan and the snow inevitability returns every November, but it still catches me off guard. The first snow is still magical. The leaves have all fallen and the branches are bare and snow clings onto the newly bare branches that form a canopy over our drive. As the sun begins to peek through the gray clouds, the light catches each snowflake and they glisten with the brightness of a layer of glitter. The laughter of small children in the neighborhood can be heard as they gleefully attempt to catch each flake on their tongue. The first snow is also a reminder that the holidays are coming. Holiday parties, dinners with loved ones and family are on everyone’s agenda.

Holiday dinner parties are the perfect time to take an extra moment to create a spectacular dessert that will create a feeling of warmth and generosity.
Vanilla Red Wine Poached Pears are simple, beautiful and very festive. Poaching pears in red wine is considered French in origin but many cultures including Asia and Britain have deep cultural ties to poaching fruits. During medieval times the poaching of fruit was utilized to preserve and extend the life of the products. Many times fruit was poached and canned in preparation for harsh winter months. Other times the poaching liquid was used to soften and create a palatable fruit when the fruit was un-ripened.

Tahitian vanilla beans are the perfect addition to this dessert. The soft fruity and floral flavor is prominent in the dessert and the beautiful dots of vanilla bean caviar are visually pleasing. Tahitian vanilla beans are plump and soft, filled with beautiful vanilla bean caviar. The size of the bean allows the cook to utilize half of the bean for this dessert and save the other half for later.

Red Wine Vanilla Poached Pears

Yields 4 servings


  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 1/2 Tahitian vanilla bean, split lengthwise, or one 3-inch
  • 1 Cinnamon stick
  • 4 Bartlett pears
  • 3 ounces dark chocolate (chopped and melted)


Combine the sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon stick with 2 cups water and 3 cups red wine in a medium saucepan (large enough to accommodate the pears) over high heat. Peel the pears, leaving their stems on. Core them with a melon baller.

Lower the pears into the boiling water and adjust the heat so that it simmers gently. Cook, turning the pears every 5 minutes to ensure even coloring. Continue at a low simmer for 10 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat and allow to cool in the liquid.

Dip the pear into dark chocolate and place on a sheet tray lined with a sheet of parchment paper or silpat. Place in the fridge to harden.

Transfer the pears to serving plates. (At this point, you may cover and refrigerate the pears for up to a day; bring to room temperature before serving.) Reduce the poaching liquid to a cup or less (this can also be stored for a day), then spoon a little over each pear before serving.