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
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.