Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Pope Valley + Merlot-Poached Pears #MerlotMe #Sponsor

For the final course of our #MerlotMe dinner, I decided to poach some adorable Seckel pears in Merlot and serve them in a pool of chocolate-Merlot sauce. Oh, delicious, chocolatey decadence was achieved!

There seem to be two distinct camps: one who thinks red wine and chocolate are a darling pair; one who thinks that those should never be served together. I fall firmly in the first camp, with the proviso that I mean good, dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao solids and good red wine. You need the flavor intensities to be equally matched or one is going to overpower the other.

For this post, I poured and paired the Pope Valley Merlot* for serving though I poached the pears in a Chalone Vineyard Merlot.

Merlot-Poached Pears in a Chocolate-Merlot Sauce

Ingredients serves 8
For the Pears
(you should poach the pears the day before you want to serve them)

  • 8 Seckel pears
  • 2 C red wine (I used the Chalone Vineyard Merlot)
  • 3/4 C organic granulated sugar

For the Sauce
(you should make this right before you want to serve because there's not much better than warm chocolate sauce)

  • 1 C organic heavy whipping cream
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate (minimum of 64% cacao though I prefer 75%), chopped or use chips
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 to 2 T Merlot

For the Pears
Peel the pears, but leave the stem intact. That makes it easier to pick them up without damaging the flesh and it also looks cool!

Pour the red wine into a saucepan and add the sugar. Heat and swirl the pan until the sugar is dissolved.

Place the pears in the red wine and simmer gently  at a very low heat for 25 to 30 minutes. You want the pears softened, but still retaining their shape. Once softened, remove from the heat, and leave the pears in the poaching liquid. You will need to turn the pears if they are not completely submerged in the liquid. I probably turned mine 4 times while they cooled. Then I refrigerated them - in the liquid - overnight.

Before serving, remove them from the liquid and bring them to room temperature.

They should look like this!

For the Sauce
Combine the cream, wine, and butter in a small saucepan. Heat over medium high heat until the cream begins to steam and small bubbles form around the edge of the pan. Pour in the chocolate and swirl until it's completely submerged. Let stand for 3 minutes. Whisk until a smooth sauce forms. This sauce is best served warm.

To Serve
Pour a small pool of chocolate into the bottom of a shallow bowl. Place your poached pear in the center. Serve immediately!

In My Glass...
This was my first time trying wine from Pope Valley Winery. I found it the perfect match for my chocolate dessert course, but think it would have been just as good with a savory course. The wine was silky and subdued with sweet notes of cherry, spiciness of clove, and a bit of warm oak on the palate. Very enjoyable.

Pope Valley Winery on the web
on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram

*Disclosure: I did receive this wine as a sample for participating in #MerlotMe - for the purpose of creating pairings and developing recipes. No additional compensation was received and opinions are completely my own.

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