With some chocolate sauce left over from a Hot Mess, I stared at some pears on my counter and thought of ways to combine red wine and chocolate - a favorite combination. This is a very easy and pretty dessert, and both the sauce and the poached pears can be made in advance and quickly assembled after a Valentine's Day meal. —Bevi
For the Poached Pears
under ripe pears, peeled, with a little skin on the top and stem left intact if possible
Cut the peeled pears in half, north to south, and scoop out the seeds with a small spoon or melon ball. Gently and carefully try to pull out the fiber that runs from the belly of the pear to the bottom.
Add the wine and the sugar to a medium sauce pan and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a simmer, and add the rest of the ingredients, except the pears. Cook for a few more minutes to blend the flavors, and then add the pear halves.
Cook very slowly on low heat, turning the pears occasionally so the red wine mixture permeates the entire pear halves. Cook for about 20 minutes, or until the liquid is reduce by half, and lightly syrupy. Allow the pears to cool in the liquid to room temperature, and then place the pears and the poaching liquid in a container and place in the refrigerator. Turn the pears every now and then.
For the Spicy Chocolate Sauce
Heat 1 cup of the heavy cream, agave syrup, and the spices in a medium saucepan. Bring to a quick simmer. Add the orange peel, the cinnamon stick, and the cayenne pepper. Reduce heat and cook for a few more minutes. Turn off the heat and allow the cream to sit in order to be infused for an hour.
Heat the chocolate chips in a bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water. When the chocolate is melted, gradually add the infused cream, stirring constantly. Allow the chocolate to cool just a bit to make dipping easier.
To dip the pears in chocolate sauce: Take the cooled pears out of the poaching liquid, and pat gently with a paper towel. Dip the pear half in the chocolate sauce, allowing the dipped pear to cool a little. Use a spoon to cover the pear with more chocolate sauce. Place the pears over a rack with some parchment paper underneath the rack. Place the pears in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes to allow the chocolate to set.
To assemble: Spoon a heaping tablespoon of the poaching liquid in a small single serve dessert bowl. Place the pear in the bowl, and if you would like, place a dollop of whipped cream atop the pear. Decorate with shaved chocolate and a few thin slices of the macerated orange peel from the poaching liquid.