for the poached pears
1 bottle Sweet Marsala Wine (3 cups)
juice and zest of two blood oranges (about 1 cup)
6 sprigs fresh thyme
8 red peppercorns
3/4 cup sugar
4 just-ripe Forelle Pears (others pears, like D’Anjou or Bosc will also work in this recipe but poach about 10 minutes longer)
for the Spiced Mascarpone
1 cup mascarpone
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Place all ingredients, except the pears, into a 4 quart saucepan. Heat liquid over medium high heat for a few minutes until sugar dissolves.
In the meantime, peel your pears and cut a bit off the bottom of each pear to make it flat and able to stand without falling. (Come serving time, you will appreciate a pear that can stand up.) Keep the stems intact. Submerge the peeled pears in the poaching liquid and return to a simmer. If your pears are not totally covered by liquid, you may want to add a bit more water or just rotate the pears periodically to insure even cooking. Simmer covered pears for 20 minutes. Forelle pears are very small, so if you use D’Anjou or Bosc pears, you will need to poach 10 minutes longer. (If your pears are a little under-ripe, you may want to add 10 or so minutes of cooking time. If the pears are very ripe, 20 minutes of poaching could be enough.) To test for doneness, a sharp knife should be able to pierce the pear without effort. Remove pears from the stove top. Let pears sit covered and submerged in poaching liquid for another 15-30 minute before serving.
While the pears are resting, make your spiced mascarpone. In a medium mixing bowl, stir together mascarpone with cream, confectioners sugar, vanilla paste, and spices. It should have a smooth, thin-ish consistency.
Place each pear in a small pretty bowl or glass. Strain poaching liquid and keep all the goodies, setting them aside for garnish. Pour some of the strained liquid over each pear. Serve with mascarpone on the side.
If you want to serve the pears later, place them in their cooking liquid, in the fridge for up to a day. The poached pears are delicious served cool as well as warm.