Red Wine Poached Pears with a Spiced Chocolate Drizzle
2 firm, green pears (I used just slightly unripe Bartlett pears)
1/2 bottle bold red wine, I used a Cabernet
6 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp local honey
5 whole cloves
1 vanilla bean, sliced in half and seeds scraped out
1 heaping tsp blood orange zest (or other citrus)
Juice of 1 blood orange (or equivalent of other citrus, about 1/8 cup)
4 whole black peppercorns
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 cup Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips (okay probably more than 1/4 cup, let's be real here)
Peel pears, preserving the stems and slice off a small part of the bottom to create a flat surface. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over them to keep the flesh from discoloring.
In a medium sized sauce pan, heat wine, sugar, honey, cloves, vanilla bean and seeds, orange zest, orange juice, peppercorns and cinnamon over high heat. Stir continually until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to keep at a rolling simmer, and cover pot to allow liquid to continue simmering for about 10 minutes.
Carefully add your pears to the liquid and cook on low heat for 1.5 to 2 hrs, turning occasionally to coat all sides and prevent any side from scorching. When fully poached the flesh will feel soft on the outside, but should still be firm on the inside, so make sure you don't over cook and create mushy, fall apart pears.
Remove pears from liquid and set aside. Strain liquid through a fine mesh strainer to weed out the peppercorns, cloves, vanilla bean and some of the orange zest. Return liquid to the pan and bring back up to a simmer. Allow to simmer and reduce for about 10 minutes. Then stir in your chocolate and whisk to fully melt and incorporate the chocolate until you have a slightly thick chocolate sauce.
Drizzle sauce over tops of each poached pear and serve immediately. Serve with a small scoop of vanilla bean ice cream for added decadence.