Of all the recipes which I have painstakingly collected in my cookbook, this is has been a favorite this year at Alla Madonna del Piatto cooking classes, that’s why I decided to publish it it here as a special Christmas gift for those of you who don’t have my book. I hope you will enjoy my creation during the upcoming holidays!
As you probably have realized I have come to love a fruity tiramisu (see here and here) . This autumnal version is made with pears poached in spiced wine which is a traditional peasant dessert in the North of Italy especially in Piemonte.
I have adapted the Piemontese recipe cooking the pears in our local Sagrantino, a robust red made in the area of Montefalco. The resulting syrup has lovely fruity undertones and makes a fabulous sauce to dip the ladyfingers. For the mascarpone cream I have used Vinsanto, an Umbrian dessert wine made with partially dried grapes. You can obviously use other wine combinations.
Each wine will impart a different character to the dessert.
16 lady fingers
250 gr (½ lb) mascarpone
250 gr (2 cups) chilled whipping cream
2 egg yolks
3 tablespoon Vinsanto or other white dry dessert wine
120 gr (1/2 cup) sugar
3 cooking pears
1 cinnamon stick
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
zest of 1 lemon
juice of ½ lemon
1/2 lt (2 cups) red wine
Peel and core and half the pears, so they will absorb the flavors of the spiced wine.
Fit them tightly in a non-reactive saucepan and cover with the red wine. Add 1/4 cup sugar, lemon rind and spices and poach with the lid on until just tender. Remove the pears from the liquid and cut into 1 cm (½) inch) dice. Add the lemon juice to the syrup and reserve.
Beat egg yolks and sugar in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water using a whisk or an electric mixer until smooth and fluid. Ideally the mixture should reach 70° C (160 °F).
Add 3 tablespoon dessert wine and whisk thoroughly for another minute or so. Remove bowl from heat and let it cool. Add eggs to the mascarpone until just combined.
Whip the cream in a separate bowl until it holds stiff peaks. Fold it gently into the mascarpone mixture.
Line the bottom of a 22×30 cm (8.5 x 12 inch) rectangular serving dish with the ladyfingers in a single layer, making compact rows. Spread the diced pears on top and drizzle the red wine syrup evenly so that the cookies will be soft but not soggy. Cover with the mascarpone cream.
Cover the pan with clingfilm and chill for at least two hours and up to 1 day. Dust with cinnamon or brown sugar before serving.