They’re refrigerated until chilled through after they’re cooked to tenderness. The leftover liquids in the pan are reduced by two-thirds to three-quarters to create a fragrant, sweet, thick syrup.
The syrup is poured through a sieve into a jar or a pitcher and that is set in the refrigerator to chill. The real moment of glory comes when everything is put together over a dollop of plain mascarpone. Many dessert recipes call for sweetening or stretching the mascarpone with sugar and cream. In this case, the pear and syrup provide all of the sweetness that are needed and the mascarpone adds a rich decadence to the dish.
My husband tells me this is “the best dessert I’ve ever eaten anywhere.” Given that he has a sweet tooth and has tried at least a little bite of nearly every of the hundreds of desserts I’ve turned out of my kitchen, I think that’s saying something. It certainly says that my husband loves it, and that’s reason enough for me to make it time and again until he cries “uncle.”
n Choose pears that are ripe but still very firm. This will help them hold together during the poaching process.
n Choose a dry white wine that you would enjoy sipping from a glass. When you cook it down, the flavor will be concentrated, so you want something you like.
n If you cannot find mascarpone (or your budget stands against it) you can substitute cream cheese. It will lack a bit of the tang, but still provide the rich, creamy note that the mascarpone would have.
n Indian and Asian groceries, bulk foods stores, and online retailers are good sources for whole cardamom pods. If you cannot find them, you can substitute ¾ teaspoon ground cardamom for the pods but it will make your final syrup a bit cloudier.