Serve these poached pears with sabayon as a post-dinner dessert to surprise your guests. As sophisticated as the dish is, the process is simpler than it looks and brings about excellent results from pleasingly sweet, tender pear chunks to a creamy Italian sabayon sauce.
- 1 cup (250 ml) water
- 2 cups (500 ml) white wine
- 1 cup (220 g) caster sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split lengthways
- 1 medium (240 g) orange
- 6 small (1.1 kg) ripe Williams pears
- Almond bread, to serve
- 4 egg yolks
- ¼ cup (55 g) caster sugar
- ⅔ cup (160 ml) white wine
- 1 tbsp orange liqueur
Place the water, wine, sugar and vanilla bean in a medium saucepan just large enough to hold the pears. Stir over medium heat, without boiling, until sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer. Remove rind from orange; cut rind into thin strips. Squeeze juice from the orange. Add the rind and juice to the pan.
Peel the pears, leaving a band of peel around the stalks. Remove the core from the base of the pears using an apple corer or small sharp knife. Place pears in the simmering syrup. Place a round of baking paper on the surface of the syrup. Simmer pears for about 5-10 mins or until a knife can easily pierce the flesh of the pears. The time will vary depending on the ripeness of the pears. Remove from the heat; cool pears in the syrup.
Meanwhile to make sabayon; put the egg yolks into a medium stainless steel bowl which will comfortably fit over a saucepan. Beat the egg yolks with hand-held electric beaters until fluffy. Add the sugar gradually, beating for 5 mins or until pale. Whisk in the wine and liqueur. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water – the base of the bowl should not touch the water. Beat the mixture until it is thick and fluffy and when beaters are lifted a ribbon of batter holds its shape. Remove the bowl from the saucepan and place it in a larger bowl of iced water to stop the cooking.
Serve the pears with the sabayon and almond bread.
TIP The pears can be poached up to 8 hrs ahead. The sabayon is best made just before serving. You can use Grand Marnier or Cointreau for the liqueur, or use orange juice. For a shortcut, serve warm pears with vanilla custard or ice-cream.