Every week on the Good Food Blog we celebrate Meatless Monday by sharing a vegetarian recipe from our archives.
David Lebovitz is the author of Ripe for Dessert: 100 Outstanding Desserts with Fruit–Inside, Outside, Alongside, published by Harper Collins. Check out his website at www.davidlebovitz.com. He first shared this recipe for Marsala-Poached Pears Stuffed with Ricotta, Chocolate, Almonds, and Cherries on November 8, 2003.
Keep reading for the full recipe…
Marsala-Poached Pears Stuffed with Ricotta, Chocolate, Almonds, and Cherries
- 2 cups sugar
- 5 cups water
- 3/4 cup Marsala, dry or sweet
- 3 strips of lemon zest, each 1/2 inch wide
- 4 firm pears (such as Bosc or Winter Nellis)
- 1/4 cup dark rum
- 1/3 cup dried sour cherries
- 2 ozs bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
- 1/4 cup almonds, toasted
- 2/3 cup ricotta cheese (part-skim or low-fat)
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1 Tablespoon milk or cream
1. To poach the pears, bring the sugar, water, Marsala, and lemon zest to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. As the liquid is heating, peel the pears with a vegetable peeler and cut out a shallow cone-shaped, quarter-sized piece from the base of each pear (the blossom end.)
2. In a small pan, warm the dark rum and cherries. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside to plump.
3. Lower the heat under the Marsala poaching liquid. Add the pears, submerge them, and cover with a round of parchment paper cut the same diameter as the saucepan. Gently simmer for 45 minutes to 1 hour (depending on the size of the pears and their ripeness), turning them every so often so they cook evenly. They are done when the tip of a paring knife goes in easily. Remove the pears and stand them upright on a plate to cool. (They can also cool in the poaching liquid and be left to soak.)
4. Increase the heat under the Marsala poaching liquid and reduce it by two-thirds, to the consistency of maple syrup.
5. To make the filling, drain the plumped cherries in a sieve set over a bowl, pressing down to squeeze out most of the liquid. Reserve the liquid and coarsely chop the cherries.
6. Grate the chocolate on the large holes of a metal grater. Finely chop the almonds.
7. Mix together the chopped cherries and their reserved soaking liquid, grated chocolate, almonds, ricotta, and sugar. Add the milk or cream.
8. Dig through the base of each pear with a melon baller and cut out the core. (Or cut the pears in half and cut out the cores.) Hollow out the center of each pear a little more, being careful not to cut through the sides. With an iced-tea spoon, spoon the ricotta filling into the pears. (Depending on the size of the pears, you may have a small amount left over.) Refrigerate the pears until ready to serve.
9. Serve a whole pear per person, with a generous amount of the reduced poaching liquid ladled over it. (Or serve the halves topped with poaching liquid.)
Note: These pears can be poached several days in advance, then filled and refrigerated up to 8 hours ahead of serving.