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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Nashi pears in wine syrup with walnuts and walnut cream

This was truly a special and elegant treat. The Nashi pears are slowly baked in a wine, vanilla and walnut syrup that creates a delicate glaze and an explosion of flavor. The whole walnuts get the same treatment. And the walnut and mascarpone cream that accompanies them is heavenly. Make it when you have special guests over :) (we had my folks over for the winter holidays). 
Recipe adapted from Jamie via Catalina

Last year: Artichoke and cous cous stuffed mushrooms (vegan).
Two years ago: Red lentil ragu with basil and ajvar.

Ingredients (serves 4):
  • 300 ml sweet white wine
  • 4 nashi pears
  • 125 g brown sugar + 2 extra tablespoons
  • 3 tablespoons orange and elderflower jam
  • grated zest from 2 oranges
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 200 g walnuts
  • 250 g mascarpone

Get the Nashi pears. You can buy them in most supermarkets and they're easy to recognize by their white protective nets:

They're sometimes shaped like regular pears, sometimes more like apples. As you can see, ours were apple-shaped :)). Next, preheat oven to 220 degrees C (highest). Start making the sauce in a deep tight dish. Put the wine, 125 g sugar, the sliced vanilla bean and the jam in it and start simmering it:

Stir once in a while to dissolve the sugar. Peel the pears and add them to the pot, along with 50-75 g walnuts:

Let it cook on low-medium heat for about 10 minutes, turning the pears on all sides once in a while. In the meantime, roast the rest of the nuts without oil in a frying pan. Stir occasionally to prevent burning:

After the pears have boiled for 5 minutes and the walnuts are roasted, put the pot with the pears into the oven and let them bake for 40 minutes. Every five minutes turn the pears or take a little sauce from the bottom and pour it on top of the pears to ensure an even glazing.
Make the cream. Put the nuts, mascarpone, the orange zest and the extra sugar in a food processor and blend.

Also add a little extra orange jam if you'd like (taste first so it doesn't come out too sweet):

The cream is ready. When the pears are done, put one on each plate along with 1/4 of the syrup and some whole walnuts that boiled in the same liquid. Complete with a generous serving of walnut cream. Some extra fresh orange segments would also be a nice addition. Serve while they're warm. Dig in! :)

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