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Alchermes poached pears filled with mascarpone cream

Pere cotte all'alchermes

Poached pears in alchermes, and cooked fruit in general, recall me the old-fashioned cuisine. When fruit, stored in boxes for the winter, was always present on the table.
Fresh and in season, or cooked.

Today, I eat less fruit than I used to and, consequently, buy less.
And to think that until a few decades ago, when I still lived with my family of origin, it was always present at the end of the meal.

Often, a simple cooked fruit was the evening dessert. And what a dessert it was.

Alchermes poached pears with mascarpone cream filling

When cooked fruit, was the dessert of winter evenings

Pears cooked in a syrup of water, sugar, and cloves, apples al cartoccio with a teaspoon of honey and the scent of cinnamon, sweet white potatoes cooked in the oven and eaten hot, chestnuts boiled with a bay leaf.

These were simple winter desserts that my grandmother often cooked. And that I loved to enjoy after dinner while we watched a movie, snuggled in the warmth of the kitchen.

Or coloring albums while the adults played cards on long winter evenings, me with cooked fruit and them with dry biscuits to dip in wine or a warm glass of fragrant mulled wine.

As I said, fresh fruit has disappeared a little from my table, cooked fruit has disappeared completely, but not from my desserts.

And on the other hand, even Jane Austen, one of my favorite authors, wrote to her sister Cassandra in October 1815, “good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness”.

I have many recipes with fruit in my repertoire. But for some time now, I have rediscovered the pleasure of more simple cooking. I choose an ingredient and build the dish around it, leaving the more complex preparations for the weekend.

The same thing happens with the week’s sideboard dessert, which can be a doughnut or a biscuit. I choose something that stays fragrant for several days and small molds.

Pere cotte all'alchermes

But writing a food blog is a journey through memories and flavors

And so the idea of cooked fruit began to dance in my thoughts again, and among the recipes, I sign off on increasingly long lists.

I started with baked apples. Sealed in foil and put in the oven to soften or cooked in a pan, I eat in the glass bowl with a spoon with some toasted walnuts crumbled on top (HERE is the video recipe of baked apple topped with meringue that I made for Pinterest).

Then I continued with the pears, baked or cooked in the pan, dipped in syrup usually, made with water, sugar, and spice, each time, different.

I have also made a few jars of pears cooked in lemon syrup.
I keep the jars in the pantry, ready to use as an accompaniment to yogurt or for filling a cake.

Grandma often cooked pears in a liqueur syrup, which I didn’t even taste.
Sometimes she used rosolio to give the fruit a vivid color, sometimes in red wine and finally in sweet white wine. Then she would slice the fruit and serve it with cream, the pastry cream enriched with whipped cream or mascarpone, creating a dessert that I remember was always very appreciated.

I only ate the cream because, as a child, the smell of liqueurs was repulsive to me.

Poached pears with mascarpone cream filling

Instead of serving cooked pear with cream on the side, I decided to use it as a filling for the pears. A modest amount of cream is needed, and it is a simple cream, just mascarpone mixed with icing sugar.

I cooked the pears in two different syrups: the first of sweet white wine, the second with alkermes.

Cooking the pears into vin santo syrup, you’ll obtain a total white effect, creating a simply elegant effect. I recommend sprinkling the pears with pistachio grains or cocoa powder to introduce a note of color.

On the contrary, you can see it from the photographs, the syrup with alkermes is an explosion of color. I didn’t use rosolio, which has a less floral taste than not everyone likes.

The colors are similar, but the ingredients and origins of the two recipes are different.
Rosolio originated, or at least is very common, in the Bolognese plains. And rather than a liqueur, it is a rose-based liqueur solution made with water, alcohol, and sugar.

Alchermes is a Tuscan liqueur that may not have or may have a low percentage of the scent of roses.
Its color does not depend on the rose but cochineal.

The colors are similar, but the ingredients and origins of the two recipes are different.
Rosolio originated, or at least is very common, in the Bolognese plains. And rather than a liqueur, it is a rose-based liqueur solution made with water, alcohol, and sugar.

I prepared a syrup with water, liqueur, and sugar.
I poach the peeled and cored pears into the boiling liquid for a few minutes. Then, with the help of a skimmer, I scoop out the fruit and place it on a plate to cool before filling.

In the meantime, I put the syrup back on the cooker to reduce it until a minimal amount remains. I make this by eye, and you will have to do it too. I use this thick but soft reduction as a base on which to arrange the pears.

Altogether, the preparation of the different parts of the dessert takes about half an hour. But don’t forget the cooling time, which is essential for filling the pears without mascarpone cream melting. Prepare the dessert in advance.

Buona cucina, Monica

Cook with me

Another dessert where pears are the protagonists and which belongs to the tradition of Romagna is the version of volpine pears cooked in red wine and sugar (HERE is the procedure).

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Alchermes poached pears filled with mascarpone cream

Alchermes poached pears filled with mascarpone cream

serves 4
List of the Ingredients

4 pears
300 ml water
400ml alchermes
50g caster sugar
150g mascarpone cheese
60g icing sugar
chocolate chips and pistachios to taste


Combine water, alchermes, and sugar in a saucepan and stir.

Wash and peel the pears, trying not to break the pulp, remove the core creating the space for the cream.

Bring the syrup to a boil, poach the pears in it for 3 minutes (use a toothpick to measure the cooking time and, if you prefer, cook for a few minutes longer).

Using a skimmer, remove the pears from the alchermes syrup and leave them to drain and cool before filling.

Meanwhile, continue to cook the syrup over a low flame until there is little liquid left on the bottom. Turn off the heat and leave to cool.

Mix mascarpone and icing sugar put the cream in a pastry bag, and fill the pears.

Spread some of the reduced sauce on the bottom of the plate, place the pear in the middle, sprinkle the fruit with pistachio grains, and the reduction with chocolate drops.

Alchermes poached pears

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