Long title of a recipe, huh? I cannot remember the last time a recipe captivated me as much as this dessert. The combination sounded like pure heaven to me. I was waiting for the right occasion to make it and then a group of food and wine lovers that congregate at Whole Foods every month for wine night decided to get together for dinner.
One of our group members is moving to London and while we are jealous, two excellent members of the group offered up their home for the best going away dinner party ever. I said I’d make dessert and thought this could be the moment to make THE dessert. At first I did not want to reveal what I was making for fear that I would start the recipe, ruin it and then have people ask what happened to the fancy spiced pear thing I was going to bring. Ugh. It was a multi-step process, but boy was it worth it. It came together so beautifully that when it was finished I started asking Marc if I was going to look like the most pretentious person alive for bringing this dessert.
Then we arrived at the party. Brian and Shannon’s house smelled amazing and we were greeted with big smiles and a bunch of delicious wines to choose from. There was a gorgeous antipasti platter of delicious cheese and smoked meats in the living room. We wandered into the kitchen to see two of the most beautiful lasagnas we”ve ever seen bubbling with goodness. We dined on garlicky and delicious panzanella with fresh baguettes and I tried a bit of both lasagnas because I couldn’t decide between the sausage and the vegetarian. They were both bright with fresh ingredients, but the roasted vegetables in the vegetarian lasagna rocked my world. Marc declared the lasagna the best he’d ever eaten.
The dessert was unveiled and everyone seemed excited to try it. They even clapped when it was brought to the table. Isn’t it great cooking for people that appreciate a recipe of effort? Even after all of that wonderful food, the guests made room for this bit of heaven on a plate. The mousse is sweet, full of flavor and pairs well with the spiced pears, lightly sweetened whipped cream and spongy ladyfingers.
I highly recommend making this for a group of appreciative friends. Speaking of appreciation, today happens to be the first anniversary of my first blog post and I want to thank you for dropping by. I love reading your comments and checking out your blogs and I’m honored that you’ve decided to take a few moments out of your busy life to stop by here and listen to me talk about some recipes. You’re the best!
Recipe: White Chocolate Tiramisu Trifle with Spiced Pears
I made the spiced pears and mousse 2 nights before the event and made the whipped cream and assembled the dessert the morning we were going to the dinner. I made extra pears and they were so good with the leftover whipped cream.
1-750 ml bottle dry white wine
2 C. pear nectar
1 1/4 C. sugar
12 whole green cardamom pods, crushed in a resealable bag with mallet
1-1 inch diameter rounds peeled fresh ginger (each about 1/8 inch thick)
2 cinnamon sticks, broken in half
9 large firm but ripe Anjou pears, peeled (original recipe calls for 5, but I wanted more)
White Chocolate Mascarpone Mousse
7 oz. high-quality white chocolate (I used Callebaut)
1/3 C. Grand Marnier
1/4 C. water
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1-8 to 8.8 oz. container mascarpone cheese
1 c. chilled heavy whipping cream
9 oz. hard lady fingers (I purchased a 1 lb. pkg and had some leftover)
2 C. chilled heavy whipping cream
White chocolate shavings (I used about 2 oz.)
I used a few pieces of an above pear for decoration
For spiced pears
Combine first 6 ingredients in a large pot. Stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves. Add pears and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer until pears are just tender when pierced with knife, about 35 minutes. Transfer liquid with pears to a large bowl and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer pears to a bowl. Boil poaching liquid in a large saucepan (I used the pot from earlier) over medium-high heat until slightly thickened and reduced to 2-3 cups, about 15 minutes (I think I had close to 3 cups). Strain into a 2-cup measuring cup with strainer over it. Discard spices in strainer and cool liquid. Cover and chill pears and pear syrup until cold.
Combine white chocolate, Grand Marnier and 1/4 C. water in top of a double-boiler set over simmering water. Stir until smooth (mixture will be very liquidy). Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean. Transfer white chocolate mixture to large bowl; gradually add mascarpone, whisking until mixture is smooth. Cool mascarpone mixture in 4 additions. Cover and chill white chocolate mousse until st, about 3 hours.
Pears and mousse can be made 1-2 days ahead. Keep chilled.
For trifle assembly
Cut pears lengthwise in half and remove cores and stems; cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. (Use a sharp knife, but be careful pears are slippery and sticky. I first cut off the ends, then cut them in half lengthwise and then in half lengthwise again. I turned the cut pear to the side and made one cut to remove most of the core and seeds. Then I sliced those into 1/4 inch slices and made sure to remove any remaining hard bits from the center.)
Pour about 1/2 C. (you will use more, but I like to use 1/2 C. at a time) of the pear syrup into a shallow bowl. Dip the ladyfingers in the liquid on both sides (for just a few seconds, they’ll soften up in the trifle) and arrange in a single layer in the bottom of a 12 cup trifle dish, covering the bottom completely (I used about 7 ladyfingers). Drizzle a tablespoon or 2 of the pear syrup evenly over the ladyfingers. (Make sure you have 1/4 C. pear syrup set aside for the whipped cream on top, then you know how much extra syrup you have for dipping ladyfingers and drizzling on top.) Using a small offset spatula, spread 1/3 of white chocolate mousse over ladyfingers, making layer slightly thicker around outer edges of dish to allow mousse to be more visible (center of mousse layer will be thin). Starting at the outer edges of the dish, place a generous amount of pear slices in a single layer with curved edges against sides of dish on top of the mousse, covering completely. Repeat layering ladyfingers, syrup, mousse and pears 2 more times. Cover with fourth layer of ladyfingers (my fourth layer fit 9 ladyfingers and you will have ladyfingers and pear slices leftover). Drizzle ladyfingers with syrup.
Trifle assembly can be done 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate trifle and remaining pear syrup separately.
Using a mixer with whisk attachment, beat 2 C. whipping cream in a large bowl until soft peaks form. Add 1/4 C. pear syrup and beat until stiff peaks form. Pour generous amount on top of the trifle (I had extra). Using a vegetable peeler, turn 2 oz. of white chocolate into chocolate shavings. Working quickly, put a handful of chocolate shavings in your hand and press up against the edge of the whipped cream until the shaving start to stick. Continue all around the trifle, working quickly because chocolate will melt in your hand. Gently press the shavings into the whipped cream so they will stay. Using 6-7 slices of pear, create a star shape in the center of the trifle and add a few white chocolate shaving in the middle.
Trifle can be fully assembled 6-8 hours ahead of time. Keep refrigerated.