Pears in Saffron with Mascarpone and Pistachio
A dessert with a Midas touch, these stuffed pears are turned to gold as they poach in orange juice and saffron. They are filled with a mixture of mascarpone, whipped cream, and caramelized pistachios. The poached pears are very delicate; take care in handling them!
- Caramelized Pistachios
- Confectioner’s Sugar - 1/4 cup
- Pistachios - 50 to 60, shelled
- Pears - 4
- Sugar - 3/4 cup
- Orange Juice - 1 quart
- Saffron Powder - 2 envelopes, about 2 grams each
- Mascarpone Cheese - 1 cup (alt. farmer’s cheese)
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1/2 cup, beaten to firm peaks
- Saffron Threads - 12 to 15, pulled apart into small pieces
- Green Peppercorns - 1 tablespoon, dried and roughly ground
- Vanilla Beans - 2, cut in half crosswise
- Mint sprigs - 4
- Almonds - 1/2 cup, sliced, toasted
To prepare the pistachios: Preheat the oven to 350 F. Put the pistachios in a pie pan or baking dish and sprinkle with the sugar. Place in the oven and roast 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to coat the pistachios. Remove; turn out on a silicone liner or oil pan, and let cool. Chop and/or crush into small pieces; set aside. The pistachios may be prepared a day or two ahead and stored in an airtight container.
To prepare the pears: Peel the pears, keeping the stems on the pears. Hollow through the bottom to remove the seeds. Place the pears upright in a saucepan. Add the sugar, orange juice, saffron powder, and a few threads of saffron; the liquid should cover the pears at the outset. Cover and bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook 20 minutes, until the pears are just softened. Remove from heat; set aside until cooled to room temperature. Leaving the pears in the poaching liquid, loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.
To assemble: Fold the mascarpone cheese and whipped cream together. Stir in half of the caramelized pistachios. Drain the pears, reserving the poaching liquid. Slice the pears in half horizontally and fill with a scoop of the cheese mixture and a few of the reserved pistachios. Place the top back on; the filling will form a thick layer between the halves of each pear. The pears may be prepared to this point and refrigerated until ready to serve.
To serve: Place a stuffed pear on each dessert plate. Drizzle with saffron-orange sauce. Sprinkle with a few saffron threads and crushed green peppercorns. Garnish each with sliced almonds, a vanilla bean piece, and a mint sprig.