This classic dessert looks dramatic but is really very simple to create.
6-7 firm seasonal pears, peeled but with stalks on
1/4 cup soft brown sugar
approximately 2 cups of red wine
juice and jest of 2 oranges
1 tsp of vannila seeds (or the scraped insides of 1 vanilla pod)
250g tub of mascarpone
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 cup slivered almonds
Pre-heat the oven to 220°C. Peel the pears using a potato peeler. Leave the stalks attached. Arrange the pears in a single layer in an oven proof dish (split between two dishes if necessary).
Squeeze and zest the oranges and add enough wine to total 3 cups of liquid.
In a small saucepan, mix together the wine, juice, brown sugar and vanilla, and bring to the boil. Pour this mixture over the pears and put them in the oven to bake. From time to time, carefully turn the pears over so they are able to soak up the red sauce on every side. Bake them for about an 1½ (depending on the pear’s ripeness), but until they are nicely red, but still holding their shape, and the remaining sauce is thick and syrupy.
Mix together the mascarpone with the slivered almonds and sugar. (For a softer mix, add a dollop of runny cream or natural yoghurt).
Remove the baked pears from the oven and arranged them in a cluster in a shallow bowl or in the middle of your largest white platter. Pour the remaining syrup over the top. Just before serving, sprinkle the pears with a shake of vanilla (or caster) sugar.
Serve warm with the mascarpone.