Pears have a long rich heritage here that is celebrated with great pride. Bartlett pears have been farmed commercially in Lake County since 1885, and today several multi-generational growers still carry on the family tradition.
To pay tribute to the Bartlett, and to Lake County which I now call home, I decided to craft a recipe that highlights all three premiere crops grown in this region: pears, walnuts, and wine!
In addition, I’m rounding out this trifecta of ingredients with a newcomer crop to the local scene: organic saffron grown by Peace & Plenty Farm in Kelseyville.
I believe this incredible dessert recipe for Sauvignon Blanc Poached Pears with Saffron Cream and Candied Walnuts is a quintessential representation of the best Lake County has to offer.
I think it should be the county’s official dessert!
Farminista’s Sauvignon Blanc Poached Pears with Saffron Cream & Candied Walnuts (serves 6)
For the Poached Pears:
- 1 bottle Lake County Sauvignon Blanc of choice
- 1 cup sugar
- 4 cinnamon sticks
- 1 vanilla bean; split and scraped seeds + pod
- 2 oranges; zest, juice, and rinds
- 6 Bartlett pears, peeled
- 1-2 cups filtered water
- fresh mint leaves (optional garnish)
For the Saffron Cream:
- 1 pint heavy whipping cream
- 1 Tbl. sugar
- pinch of Peace & Plenty Farm Organic Saffron
For the Candied Walnuts:
- 1 cup Lake County grown walnuts, halved
- 2 Tbl. butter
- 3 Tbl. dark brown sugar
- 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
- In the morning, make the Saffron Cream as follows: Place 1 pint heavy whipping cream, 1 Tbl. sugar, and a small pinch of saffron threads in a saucepan. Heat on medium low, stirring frequently, until sugar melts and the saffron is infused in the cream (it will turn light orange in color). Remove from heat and cool. Chill in the refrigerator at least 4 hours.
- To Poach the Pears: In a large deep sauce pan, combine Sauvignon Blanc, 1 cup sugar, cinnamon sticks, vanilla bean (split pod + scraped seeds), orange zest, juice and rinds.
- Add peeled pears and enough water to submerge the pears completely. *Place a small plate on top of the pears in the pan to keep them submerged in the liquid while cooking. Heat on medium-high to simmer.
- Reduced heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes or until the pears can be easily pierced with the tip of a sharp knife. When tender, remove pears from poaching liquid to a platter with a slotted spoon. Set aside and cool to room temperature.
- Strain poaching liquid into a bowl. Discard cinnamon, vanilla pod, and orange rind. Pour strained liquid back into the pan, and reduce over medium-low heat for 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until syrupy. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
- Make the Candied Walnuts as follows: melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add walnuts, sugar and cinnamon, tossing to coat. Cook until sugar melts and sticks to the walnuts–stirring constantly. Pour sugared walnuts onto a non-stick pan, and let cool. Break into pieces.
- Just before serving, remove the Saffron Cream from the refrigerator and use a hand mixer to beat the cream on high speed until stiff peaks form.
- To assemble, place a generous dollop of Saffron Cream in the center of a single dessert plate. Place (1) poached pear in the center of the cream. Drizzle pear with cool poaching syrup. Add a sprinkle of candied walnuts and garnish with fresh mint leaves. Serve and enjoy!