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Author Notes: Any variety of fresh pears will work perfectly in this refreshing dessert.
I just happened to have 5 large Bartlett stil firm pears, and used 3 of them as the recipe calls for. Later in the fall I would use Basc or any red pears. I like this recipe for its versatility; it will by equally delicious with many fresh or dried fruits and deferent spices.
If you have leftover syrup, it is great in other dishes: Simmer it, uncovered, over medium heat until reduced by half, about 20 minutes. Pour through a strainer. Cool, cover, and chill up to 1 month. Add a spoonful to glasses of sparkling wine for an aperitif or spoon over vanilla ice cream and berries or over a simple pound cake for dessert. I always have homemade ricotta that is why I came up with the mousse for pairing with the compote and to mach grapes in the compote I added raisins to the mousse. Soaking the raisins in brandy or rum adds brightness to the flavor.
For the Anise Pear Compote
- • 1/2 cup sugar or honey
- • 3/4 cup dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio
- • 1 Star Anise or 1/4 teaspoon anise seeds, crushed
- • 1 long or 2 short cinnamon sticks
- • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- • 3 large firm ripe pears (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- • Segments from 1 large orange
- • Segments from 1 grapefruit
- • 3/4 cup seedless grapes
For Ricotta-Raisin Mousse
- • 2 cups fresh whole milk ricotta, drained
- • 2 tablespoons of the compote syrup to thin a little out ricotta
- • 1/2 cup golden raisins soaked in pear brandy or any brandy or dark rum (about 2 tablespoons); then well drained in a strainer over a small bowl
- • 2 teaspoons orange or lemon zest
- • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- • 4 tablespoons powdered sugar, divided
- • 1 cup organic heavy whipping cream, chilled
- To make the compote: In a medium- size pan, bring sugar, wine, anise, cinnamon and salt to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer.
- Peel, core and quarter pears. Place in hot syrup, cover, and simmer until barely tender when pierced (about 6 to 10 minutes) depending on the ripeness of pears; cool.
- With a sharp knife, peel orange and grapefruit, lift out segments. Add orange and grapefruit segments, and grapes to pears; mix in gently. Chill before serving.
- To make the Ricotta-Raisins Mousse: Blend the ricotta cheese, 2 tablespoons powdered sugar, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of compote syrup in a blender or food processor until light and fluffy, about 30 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl; mix in zest and raisins.
- In a separate bowl, using an electric hand mixer beat the cream until thick. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons powdered sugar and continue to beat until the cream holds stiff peaks.
- Carefully, in three portions, fold the cream into the ricotta mixture. Spoon mousse into serving bowls and refrigerate until ready to serve.