Happy Nearly New Year everyone ! I hope anyone who reads (there must be someone out there, lol) has had a wonderful holiday season. And for those who are struggling this year, I hope the next brings you wonderful things.
I am heading out to a New Year’s Eve party later tonight and a request was made for cheesecake. I wanted to do something a little special with a basic chocolate cheesecake, so I poached some pears in port and a sweet blueberry wine .
I am in Newfoundland with my family for Christmas, so I also wanted to showcase a couple of local products. The first of these, Newman’s Port, is not produced in Newfoundland, but has long been aged and bottled here. And by long, I mean since the 1600’s ! You can read a little of the history of this product and the link to Newfoundland here.
The second boozy addition to my pears was a local blueberry dessert wine from Auk Island Winery (the iceberg blueberry to be exact). The combination of the two added just what I wanted for my pears. Here is the recipe:
For the poaching liquid combine the following in a saucepan big enough to accommodate four bosc pears (which I’d peeled, cut in half and cored, but you would leave whole and cored/peeled if serving as a stand alone dessert):
- 1 tsp fennel seeds, wrapped in a little cheesecloth
- 1 cinnamon stick
- zest of one lemon
- juice of one lemon
- slice of fresh ginger, peeled.
- 1 1/2 cups blueberry dessert wine (or substitute any sweet wine)
- 1 cup port
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla
Bring this mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to low-medium. Add pears and simmer for about 25 minutes or until pears are tender (the mixture should cover the pears, but also a circle of parchment over top will keep them from browning if they are sticking out). Turn the pears at least once during cooking.
Remove pears from poaching liquid and return the liquid to high head until reduced and thickened. Add more sugar to taste if desired (I added about a tbsp).
For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- 9 ounces chocolate cookie crumbs
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/2 cup flaked filberts
- 1/4 – 1/3 cup melted butter
Combine the above and press into bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan with a circle of parchment on the bottom. Set aside and prepare cake filling:
- 10 oz bittersweet chocolate
- 4 8 oz packages cream cheese
- 1 1/4 cups white sugar
- 2 tbsp cane sugar
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 4 large eggs
Melt chocolate over a double boiler or in microwave. Allow to cool somewhat while making rest of cake. Combine cream cheese and two sugars in a stand mixer until fully incorporated. Add cocoa, scrap sides. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping sides at least once. Slowly add melted chocolate into this mixture. Pour filling into prepared crust and bake for about one hour until it no longer jiggles. Cool in oven for about an hour with the door open, then transfer to fridge over night. Remove cake from pan by running a knife around inner edge and transferring to platter, removing parchment in process.
To make ganache for decorating:
- 3/4 cups plus 1 tbsp whipping cream
- 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate
- 1 tbsp port
- 1 tsp cinnamon
Pipe edging of ganache around cake, spread port wine reduction over top of cake and assemble pears on top, drizzling remaining reduction over all. Serve with whipped cream if desired.