Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Pear Compote with Gingered Shortbread Crumbs

Ah, the joys of being a food blogger! One of the significant perks is getting to taste, try, and tinker with all sorts of products; and when that product just happens to be some lovely wine ... well, it's a good day in Mary Land.

I was the very happy recipient of a bottle of Gnarly Head Chardonnay, described as having "bright, tropical fruit aromas and flavors of pineapple, citrus, pear and melon with a touch of vanilla on the finish." And while I was not at all averse to sipping the wine with dinner, you know I always like to cook with it, too. The brightness, the acidity, and the hints of fruit offer a tremendous boost to flavors.

We all know I have a sweet tooth, although the Chardonnay would be lovely in savory dishes, as well. So - of course! - I spent an entire day craving a dessert. When I first tasted the wine, I felt it would be perfect with pears; it was a bit tart, a bit sweet, and it immediately triggered a sense that these ingredients would be ideal complements to each other.

I thought about poaching pears, but that's been done many, many times before; and so, I varied the theme a bit by cooking a fragrant compote instead, and teased a bit of the vanilla hints from the wine, as well, by using vanilla sugar rather than the plain ol' variety as everything simmered.

But I didn't just want soft fruit - there needed to be some crunch, some texture. And regular readers know that I have an obsessive love affair with shortbread cookies, with their richness and beautiful simplicity; they seemed to be a stellar contrast to the luscious pears. And how could anything go wrong when adding a touch of spice with candied ginger?

This dessert - sophisticated comfort food - turned out far, far better than I'd even hoped! Sweet pears, accented by the Chardonnay, layered with crisp and buttery cookies ... sigh. I had planned to save some of this to take to work the next day, a treat to look forward to; but it was so exceptionally good that I devoured the entire thing in one sitting!

Quick, simple, and oh, so luxurious! Gnarly Head Chardonnay, ripe pears, and shortbread ... all you need for a beautiful fall dessert.

Pear Compote with Gingered Shortbread Crumbs

2 large Anjou pears, very ripe
1/3 cup Gnarly Head Chardonnay
1 tablespoon vanilla sugar

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon minced candied ginger
1/2 cup shortbread cookie crumbs

To finish:
whipped cream

Peel and core pears, then cut into 1/2" dice. Place into a small saucepan, then add wine and sugar; bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook for 10 minutes. Mash pears with a fork until they're the consistency of applesauce, then boil 5 more minutes to evaporate most of the liquid. Set aside.

In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add brown sugar, ginger, and cookie crumbs; cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently, just until crumbs are lightly golden.

Layer the crumbs and pear compote in small parfait glasses, or just place some of the compote into small bowls and sprinkle crumb mixture on top. Serve warm, topped with whipped cream.

Don't combine the compote and the crumbs before serving, or the crumbs will soften; they're very nice with a bit of crunch to them.

Serves 2.


Unknown said...

Looks and sounds absolutely sinful :)

Cranberry Morning said...

I had to PIn this, Mary. I am a huge fan of pears! My mom used to buy a crate of them and can them, so we could eat them during the long winter. It was such a treat! This brings back a wonderful memory. :-)

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