Recipe of the Week


Prep Time: 1½ Hours
Yields: 8 Servings

There is nothing that shouts Christmas like gingerbread. When served with the beautiful bright red poached Christmas pears flavored with a touch of root beer, it’s a marriage made in heaven.

Ingredients for Poached Pears:
8 Bartlett pears, stem intact
1 bottle Zinfandel
1 cup root beer
2 cups sugar
1 bay leaf
1 tsp black whole peppercorns
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 sprig fresh rosemary
1 cinnamon stick
2 vanilla beans

Method for Poached Pears:
Using a paring knife, slice off approximately ¼ inch from the bottom of the pear so it will sit flat on a plate. Peel and core the pear without puncturing the outer surface. If you should choose not to core the pear, you should instruct your guests that seeds are present in the center. Store the pears in water until ready to cook to keep from turning brown. In a 1-gallon saucepot, combine wine, root beer and sugar. Using a wire whisk, stir constantly until sugar is dissolved. Add bay leaf, peppercorns, thyme, rosemary and cinnamon stick. Using a paring knife, split the vanilla beans in half and scrape the black inside into the liquid. Place the remaining bean hulls into the pot as well. Add pears and enough water to cover by ¼ inch, if necessary. Place the pot over medium-high heat and bring mixture to a low boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook until pears are slightly tender but not overcooked, approximately 45 minutes. NOTE: Check the texture often after 30 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the pears to cool in the liquid. Cover and place in the refrigerator a minimum of 1 day to marinate and pick up the color of the wine. When ready to serve, carefully transfer pears to a plate using a slotted spoon then set aside. Bring poaching liquid to a boil and cook until reduced to a syrup-like consistency, 15–20 minutes. NOTE: Cooking liquid need to be watched carefully towards the end because it can burn quickly. It should yield approximately ¾ cup of syrup.

Ingredients for Gingerbread:
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp unsalted butter, softened
2 tbsps granulated sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
¼ cup molasses
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups unbleached flour
2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp salt
1¾ cups packed dark brown sugar
1 cup root beer, preferably an artisanal brand
whipped topping for garnish

Method for Gingerbread:

Position a rack in the center of oven and preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch square cake pan with butter and dust lightly with granulated sugar. Set aside. In a small bowl, add oil, molasses and eggs and whisk until well combined. Set aside. In a large bowl, add flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and salt and stir to mix well. Add molasses mixture into seasoned flour and stir to combine. Set aside. In a small saucepot over medium-high heat, add brown sugar and root beer then bring to a boil. Add hot root beer mixture into flour and molasses mixture and quickly beat until combined. Pour batter into the prepared cake pan and bake 35–45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of cake comes out clean. Allow to cool in pan approximately 40 minutes. Remove pears from poaching liquid and create syrup while cake is cooling. When cake is cooled, invert pan to remove cake and turn the cake right side up. To serve, cut the gingerbread into 8 pieces of desired size and place one on each of 8 plates. Arrange a pear against each piece of gingerbread and drizzle with an equal portion of the syrup. Top with a dollop of whipped topping and serve.

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