Pears poached in sauternes, cardamom and ginger served with honeyed marscapone and hazelnuts



6-8 almost-ripe pears, such as comice or conference
375ml bottle of Sauternes
100g soft light brown sugar
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 cardamom pods, crushed (toast them in a dry pan for 3–4 minutes, to bring out the flavour, if you like)
1 cinnamon stick
Seeds of 1 vanilla pod or a few drops of vanilla extract
Twist of black pepper
2 cloves
About 200ml water
Honey mascarpone
150g mascarpone
A squeeze of honey
Toasted hazelnuts, for sprinkling


Peel the pears, leaving the stems intact and cut a little bit off the base if they do not stand up. You can remove the core from the bottom with a sharp knife if you like, but I tend not to bother.

Put the wine, sugar, lemon zest, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, vanilla, pepper and cloves into a medium pan, then arrange the pears in a single layer and put the pan over a high heat. Pour in enough water to cover the pears, then bring to the boil.

Keep them on the boil for 3–4 minutes to get rid of the strong alcoholic taste, then turn the heat down so the liquid is just simmering. Leave for about 20 minutes, then turn off the heat and set the pears aside in the liquid to cool.

Once the pears are cool, they can be stored in the poaching liquid in the fridge for 2–3 days.

When you are ready to serve, put the mascarpone in a bowl and gently stir in the honey. Sprinkle over some toasted hazelnuts and serve alongside the pears.