Ruby port poached pears and hazelnut shortbread
- November 2014
- Serves 8
- Hands-on time 30 min, cooking time 1 ¼ hours, plus 6-12 hours chilling
These spiced poached pears with crumbly shortbread make a beautifully elegant dinner party dessert.
- 16.5g (7.8g saturated)
- 3.2g protein
- 55.1g (39.8g sugars)
For the pears
- 500ml ruby port
- 50ml cassis
- 50ml grenadine
- 60g caster sugar
- 1 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 10 cardamom pods, crushed
- 8 ripe conference pears, stalks intact, peeled
For the hazelnut shortbread
- Small splash sunflower oil
- 50g whole blanched hazelnuts, roughly chopped
- 110g unsalted butter, softened
- 55g caster sugar, plus extra
- 110g plain flour
- 55g rice flour or cornflour
- For the pears, heat everything except the pears in a heavy-based pan without stirring. Once the sugar has melted, add the pears, bring to a gentle simmer and poach gently for 20-30 minutes, turning now and then.
- When the pears are tender to the tip of a blunt knife, put in a bowl with their syrup and cool slightly. Put cling film over the top, touching the surface to keep the pears in the syrup, then chill for 6-8 hours (or see Make Ahead and tip). Turn once.
- For the shortbread, heat the oven to 170°C/fan150°C/gas 3½. Heat a pan with the oil, then add the nuts. Toss for a few minutes until pale golden, then cool on kitchen paper.
- Beat the butter and sugar in a bowl with a wooden spoon, then stir in the flours and a small pinch of salt. Work with your hands until you have small chunks of dough, then knead through the nuts, bring the dough together and press into a 20cm square baking tin lined with baking paper. Smooth the top, chill for 10 minutes, then sprinkle a little extra caster sugar on top.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until very pale golden. After 20 minutes, score the top into 16 even-size bars using a sharp knife. Cool for 20 minutes in the tin, then cut through the bars and cool completely (see Make Ahead).
- To serve, bring the pears to room temperature, slice off the bases, then heat gently in the syrup for 10 minutes or until warmed through. Transfer the pears to a plate, cover with cling film, turn up the heat on the syrup and reduce by half. Put the pears upright on plates and pour over the hot syrup. Serve with the shortbread and cream, if you like.
Chilling the pears for 6-8 hours will give you the tawny, blushed colour in the picture. With longer chilling they’ll be darker.
Store the cooled shortbread in a container for up to 5 days. Make the pears the night before and chill.
Rub the peeled pears in a clean tea towel to smooth the surface and remove any lines from the peeler.
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