- 2 cups dry white wine
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 vanilla bean, cut and scraped
- 2 tablespoons minced ginger
- 1 tablespoon cardamom pods
- 1/2 stick cinnamon
- Peel from half a lemon
- 8 Seckle pears, peeled
- 1 recipe Walnut pound Cake, recipe follows
- 1 recipe Blue Cheese Ice Cream, recipe follows
- 1 recipe Rosemary Caramel, recipe follows
In a 4-quart saucepan, combine all of the ingredients except the pears. Stir the liquid until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Place the pears in the saucepan and cut a piece of parchment paper to fit over the pears and serve as a parchment lid. Cook the pears over medium heat for 30 to 40 minutes, or until the pears are easily pierced with a knife. Allow to cool completely in the poaching liquid.
To serve the dish, remove the pears from the cooled cooking liquid and place 1 on each of 8 dessert plates. Slice the pound cake into 8 (1/2-inch) slices and cut each slice in 1/2 diagonally. Place the halved slices on the plate next to the pear with the edges of the cake shingled. Place a scoop of the Blue Cheese Ice Cream between the pear and pound cake, and drizzle the warm Rosemary Caramel around the plate and over the ice cream.
Walnut Pound Cake:
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter plus 1 tablespoon, at room temperature, divided
- 1 1/2 cups plus 1 tablespoon cake flour, divided
- 1/2 vanilla bean, cut and scraped, seeds reserved
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
Adjust the oven rack to the center position, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Place the 1/2 pound butter and the vanilla bean seeds in a saucepan set over low heat. Gently melt the butter, whisking constantly. Set aside. Combine the sugar and eggs in the bowl of a standing mixer. Use the whip attachment to beat the mixture on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Reduce the speed to low, and in a slow and steady stream, pour the melted butter and vanilla into the bowl. Sift the remaining 1 1/2 cups cake flour, the baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl. Add the sifted flour mixture in 3 parts to the wet ingredients in the bowl of the stand mixer. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure an evenly blended batter. Mix the batter just until blended, add the sour cream and walnuts and mix just until blended.
Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F, and continue to bake the cake until the top is a deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes, rotating the pan after 20 minutes of baking. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and continue to cool on the rack until just warm.
Yield: 1 (9-inch) loaf cake, 8 to 10 servings
Blue Cheese Ice Cream:
- 2 cups half-and-half
- Pinch salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 whole egg yolks
- 2 to 3-ounces crumbled blue cheese
Combine the half-and-half and salt in a non-reactive saucepan over medium heat. Bring the half-and-half just to a boil, then remove the saucepan from the heat.
Beat the sugar and egg yolks in a bowl. Add the half-and-half mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time, to the beaten eggs and sugar, whisking in between each addition, until all is used. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring, for 5 to 6 minutes, or until the mixture becomes thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from the heat, strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl with the crumbled blue cheese. Whisk until cheese is melted. Allow the custard to cool completely.
Process the cooled custard in an ice cream machine according to the manufacturer's instructions. Remove the ice cream form the machine, place in a freezer-safe container and freeze until firm, about 8 hours.
Yield: 1 quart
Rosemary Caramel Sauce:
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary leaves plus 2 whole sprigs, divided
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup whole milk, divided
Combine the sugar, water, lemon juice and rosemary leaves in a medium heavy saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Let boil without stirring until the mixture becomes a deep amber color, 2 to 3 minutes, watching closely so it doesn't burn. Add the cream (be careful; it will bubble up), whisk to combine, and remove from the heat.
Add 2 tablespoons of the milk, then add up to 2 more tablespoons, until the desired consistency is reached. Strain the sauce and let cool until ready for serving. (The sauce will thicken as it cools.) Add the sprigs of rosemary to the caramel as it cools and allow the sauce to steep with the rosemary until the rosemary essence permeates the caramel. Remove the rosemary sprigs before serving the caramel. The caramel may be made up to several days in advance and kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Warm gently over low heat before serving.
Yield: generous 3/4 cup