n The saffron is expensive, but it is essential if you want your pears to have that lovely yellow hue. While turmeric can stand in for saffron in many dishes, this is not one of them.
n You can serve these pears at room temperature or well chilled. I prefer the texture of them chilled, but this is up to you.
Honey Cardamom Poached Pears
4 ripe but firm pears (Bosc is a good choice.)
2 c. Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio
1 c. mild honey
15 whole cardamom pods, lightly crushed with the side of a knife or heavy object
½ t. saffron threads
Pinch of salt
Mascarpone, for serving
Stir together the Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio, honey, cardamom pods, saffron threads and the pinch of salt in a 2-quart saucepan. Peel and place the pears in the liquid.
Bring the mixture to a gentle boil over medium-high heat, then drop the heat to the lowest setting, place a circle of parchment paper directly on the surface of the liquid, and simmer for 15-20 minutes, lifting the parchment paper and gently turning the pears from time to time.
The pears are done when you can easily insert a knife in the base of the pear with no resistance. Transfer the pears to a rimmed plate or bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled. Discard the parchment, raise the heat back up to medium and bring the mixture to a boil again. Boil the syrup until it has reduced by 2/3 to 3/4 of the original volume. Pour it through a fine mesh strainer or sieve into a heat-safe jar or pitcher. Cover with plastic wrap or a lid, and refrigerate until ready to serve.
To present the pears, add a dollop (about 2 tablespoons) of mascarpone to a dessert cup or dish and arrange one pear over it. Drizzle a little of the chilled syrup over the top and serve.