As we look forward to crisp evenings, toasty fires and Thanksgiving, I simply must share this recipe with you. I stumbled upon this dessert years ago when thumbing through Richard Sax’s wonderful cookbook, Classic Home Desserts. What originally attracted me to it was the incredible photograph of the Bosc pears, regally glistening in a baking pan. This stunning fall centerpiece is a wonderfully luscious way to end any meal. To make things even more perfect, Trattoria Pears are idea for vegan guests.
Being a lover of aromatics, I increased the cloves, cinnamon sticks, lemon strips, and vanilla bean from the original recipe. Over the years I have found that the recommended baking time of 2 hours was just not sufficient for my oven. Since I do baste every twenty minutes and opening an oven results in a loss of oven temperature, the actual cooking time is between 3 to 3 ½ hours. The longer baking time results in a higher level of Marsala reduction, so the Marsala has been increased to 1⅓ cups. The mingling of the cloves, lemon, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick and pears bathed in Marsala will fill your home with the most intoxicating aroma of citrusy spice, che profumo!
The pears may be made several days in advance and stand at room temperature lightly covered with plastic wrap. Uncover before guests arrive and bathe with the Marsala syrup, arranging the larger aromatics decoratively around the roasting pan…allora you have a culinary masterpiece fit for the most elegant of Thanksgiving tables.
- 1⅓ cup dry Marsala
- ⅔ cup sugar
- 12 cloves
- 4 cinnamon sticks, if large use 2 and break into halves
- 6 long strips lemon zest, use a potato peeler or zester
- 1 vanilla bean, cut into half and split lengthwise
- 6 firm-ripe Bosc pears unpeeled, select pears that are free of bruises or blemishes
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
- Place the Marsala and the sugar into a shallow roasting pan, just large enough to accommodate the pears in a standing position. Stir together the sugar and Marsala, then add the cloves, cinnamon sticks, lemon strips, and vanilla bean segments. Sit the pears into the liquid, and using a large spoon, baste them all over with the Marsala sugar mixture, place the pan into the preheated oven.
- Bake, basting every twenty minutes, using a turkey baster. Be sure to gently coat the surface of the pears with the liquid. The pears are done when they are tender but not mushy and the skins are wrinkled and crinkly, in about 3 to 3½ hours. The liquid will become quite syrupy.
- Remove to cool, continuing to baste using a large spoon.
- The pears can be prepared a day or two in advance and sit lightly covered with plastic wrap at room temperature.
- Serve the pears warm or at room temperature, spooning a little of the syrup over them and some of the aromatics along side.
The pear …such a majestic food! I can only imagine the fragrance …as you say che profumo! I absolutely adore the simplicity of this dessert. Sometimes we forget that simple, when done right can be spectacular! Great post Paula. Thanks for sharing 🙂
It is truly a spectacular site, almost a piece of art at the table. Yes, simple will prevail when given the right ingredients. I hope you give them a try Maria.
This dessert is rather stunning in it’s simplicity and sounds truly mouthwatering! I love the idea of using Marsala as the base for the syrup…just lovely!
The Marsala syrup becomes infused with the flavor of the spices and of course the pears. Actually, it makes quite a nice topping for gelato – if you have any left over that is.
Ciao Chow Linda says
What a simple but sensational dessert. The long cooking time does evaporate the marsala. Would you recommend adding some water to the pan?
Terrific question Linda. I have been making this pear dish for years and have not needed to do so, the Marsala does become thick and syrupy. Although the pears remain unpeeled the shriveling near the top suggests that some of the juices are released which is perhaps the reason why I have not had to add water. But by all means it give it a try, I would love to hear about the results.