Poached Pears with Dulce de Leche Sauce

Poached Pears with Dulce de Leche Sauce

Two-in-one recipes are more fun when booze is involved. That is fact. In this recipe, we end up with bonus snifters of basic vino caliente, or South American mulled wine, to go with blushing red poached pears. Granted, there isn’t anything exclusively South American about the spiced wine component, but vino caliente sounds much cooler than “hot wine,” doesn’t it?

Once the pears are poached, some of the spiced wine is simmered down into a light and fruity syrup. The wine reduction keeps the richness of the dulce de leche sauce in check.

Warm dessert. Spiced wine. Winter will be over before you know it. For sunnier days, serve the pears with dulce de leche ice cream or make a granita out of the leftover vino.

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Easy Pear Tart Recipe

Easy Pear Tart Recipe

Marcella Hazan reassures in her trademark impassioned tone, “Only an active campaign of sabotage could ruin it,” as if to say, “You can’t possibly screw this up, you donkey.” With that in mind, I’ve never had as much confidence in trying out a new recipe.

She insists on using Bosc or Anjou pears and singles out Bartlett pears as a mediocre choice. Even with that little tidbit, this pear tart recipe still ranks high on my list of Unfussy and Easy Recipes with High Payoff. It’s the first thing I think of whenever pears are in season.

Before baking, do top with the optional cloves, or failing that, maybe a cinnamon stick or two. The addition of whole spices adds so much with so little effort.

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Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread – 100% Whole Wheat

Cinnamon Raisin Walnut Bread

Sweet and fragrant cinnamon raisin walnut bread is a breakfast option worth waking up for. With all of the fruits and toasted nuts in the loaf, a generous slice is satisfying enough on its own. The center is filled with molten cinnamon sugar but you can leave it out if you prefer a less sweet bread.

This 100% whole wheat bread guarantees that you won’t end up craving a bowl of sugar shortly after the morning commute. I don’t know what Starbucks put in their baked goods but that stuff makes me hungrier than I was to begin with.

Enriched with milk, butter, and eggs, this cinnamon raisin walnut bread recipe makes fairly rich and moist loaves. It’s basically a lean brioche spiked with cinnamon.

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Pain d’épices – Fruit and Spice Cake

Pain d’épices - Fruit and Spice Cake Recipe

If you replace molasses with honey and add rye flour to your old-fashioned gingerbread recipe, you’ll end up with a basic pain d’épices, the French take on gingerbread. As its name implies, “bread of spices” is all about the fragrance and warmth of ground aromatics. There are endless spice mix variations and each recipe seems to have its own distinctive blend.

This fruit and spice loaf cake from Pierre Hermé and Dorie Greenspan has the most interesting spice blend of all the pain d’épices recipes I’ve seen. Water is infused with star anise to start off, so immediately we’re given a preview of the arometherapy to come.

Hefty amounts of cinnamon, ginger, black pepper, coriander, cardamom, and nutmeg may seem like overkill, but the combination is surprisingly well-balanced in the suggested amounts. None of the spices stands out too much and as a whole, the effect is quite intoxicating.

The following pain d’epices recipe makes a dense and hearty loaf meant to be sliced very thinly. The bread itself is light on the honey but there is plenty of sweetness from the prunes and apricots. Walnuts and almonds are added for crunch and citrus zest brightens the deep flavors of the spices, rounding out the texture and aroma of the finished loaf.

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Dan Lepard’s Stollen Recipe

Dan Lepard's Stollen Recipe

This stollen is one of many treats lovingly inflicted upon kith and kin for Christmas, alongside boatloads of cookies and chocolate. If my number crunching is correct, at a going rate of 3500 calories per pound, my beat-up oven is responsible for a metric ton of holiday season weight gain. I’m just glad that no one’s complaining and not much of the poundage ended up on me.

It was difficult to decide on a stollen recipe not because I lacked choices, but because I had way too many. There was no time to deal with a dud, so when Nils gave Dan Lepard’s extra moist stollen a thumbs up, I knew which recipe to try.

Don’t let the long list of ingredients discourage you — most of the recipe items are spices and fruits. Everything will come together quickly because there’s not much kneading and the smooth dough is easy to handle by hand.

Shaping the stollen is probably the most fun part about making it. There’s something satisfying about enclosing a roll of marzipan in fruit-studded dough.

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