mulled wine mousse with poached pears

poached pears

Today’s offering to holiday cheer is a double wino whammy: Mulled Wine Mousse, served with pears poached in mulled wine and pomegranate juice. As I recently told you, I’ve been listening to a lot Hanson’s Snowed In, and in their words, this dessert is what Christmas means to me.

Deliciousness and decadence.

mulled wine mousse

The concept of an alcoholic mousse makes me think of technicolor desserts in 1960’s cookbooks, and so I’ve tried to present the finished product here in a similar vein. I personally love affected food photos, whether tinged yellow or pink in hue (or both!). There’s something about those 60’s cookbooks – Dinner in a Dish my companion of choice – it’s as if the photos make for instant food memories. And at Christmas time, there’s nothing better than a food memory or two. Am I right?

Yes. I am right.

Speaking of memories, the masses (aka 1 of you) have been clamoring (aka making one chill request) to see my tasteful holiday decorations. Ask and ye shall receive, gentle readers.

xmas decorationsxmas decorations xmas decorationsxmas decorations

We cut down a beautiful balsam fir found on a woods road a few miles from home. It is strung with some lights, popcorn and cranberry garlands, and eight ornaments – plus an American flag bow as a tree topper. I’ve been making a wood-burned ornament for each of the past few years, and it may come as no surprise that this year’s ornament is a tuberific potato plant. Potato Inspector represent!

The crème de la crème of my holiday decorations is my 6-species wreath, which contains fir, spruce, white cedar, white pine, tamarack, and red osier dogwood. I would like to drown it in liquid plastic and let it live forever on my front door. But I’ll settle for two or three months.

mulled wine mousse

Today, I discovered a hint of scratchy throat syndrome. Since I have a (second!!) job interview on Wednesday, I am not in the mood to get sick, especially right before the holidays. So, this morning finds me sitting on the couch……. with onions in my socks.

Old remedies claim that onions-in-socks can cure just about anything. Colds, the flu, a fever, you name it. Probably hunger, too. The smell is a bit unappetizing.

Anyway, how about some mousse?

Mulled Wine Mousse with Poached Pears

Serves 10-12

For the poached pears


4-5 pears (I used sweet little Comice pears)
2 c. mulled wine (recipe follows)
2-3 c. pomegranate juice (as needed to cover the pears in the pan)
1-3 tbsp honey, if desired


Peel the pears, leaving the stem. Cut the base to create a flat surface, if needed.

In a small saucepan, bring mulled wine and pomegranate juice to the boil. Add honey, if using. Add pears, fitting them into the pot tightly so that they don’t tip over. If making fewer pears, as I did, there is nothing you can do to stop pears from tipping. In this case, just go with it, occasionally rotating them.

Cover pears with a round of parchment, and a pot lid, if you have one small enough to fit inside the saucepan. I used my smallest pan, so covered the pears with a small plate. Simmer for 30 minutes to an hour, depending on the firmness of the pears. Turn heat off, and allow to remain in the liquid until cool.

For the mousse (inspiration here)


1/2 c. mulled wine (recipe follows)
1 packet unflavored gelatin
3 eggs, separated
1 c. sugar (I assume other sweeteners could work equally well)
2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 tsp lemon or other citrus zest
1 tsp cinnamon


Put half a dozen ice cubes and a cup or two of water in a large bowl, set aside. In a small bowl, sprinkle gelatin over mulled wine. Let sit for one to two minutes.

In a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of boiling water, combine egg yolks and 1/2 c. of sugar. Whisk for several minutes, until mixture becomes thin and pale. Whisk in the gelatin/wine mix, and cook for two to three minutes, whisking occasionally. Remove from the heat, and place in the ice bath, stirring occasionally, until mixture has slightly cooled. Remove from ice bath before the mixture chills completely, or it will become too thick to incorporate into the mousse.

Meanwhile, combine cream with remaining 1/2 c. sugar, zest, and cinnamon, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk. Whip until stiff peaks form. Fold into gelatin mixture, 1/3rd at a time. Set aside, and clean out the electric mixer bowl.

In a cleaned electric mixer bowl, whisk egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold into the bowl of whipped cream and gelatin. Scoop into individual glasses, or a large serving dish, and refrigerate an hour or overnight.

Serve with slices of Mulled Wine Poached Pears, and even with cubes of Mulled Wine Gelatin if you’re feeling frisky.


Mulled Wine

For one regular-sized bottle of wine


1/2 c. granulated sugar (or 1/2 c. other sweetener, such as honey or agave)
1 bottle red wine
1/2 unpeeled orange or 1 tangerine, cut into sections
1 cinnamon stick
1 heaping tbsp mulling spices (allspice, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and mace)
1 tbsp brown sugar


In a large pot, combine sugar with a few splashes of wine. Add orange slices. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, and cook for five minutes. Using a spoon or spatula, flatten the orange slices, exuding the juice and releasing the zest.

Add the rest of the wine, the cinnamon stick, and the mulling spices. Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Do not allow the mixture to boil or simmer, as this will reduce the alcohol content. Near the end of cooking, add brown sugar to round out the flavors.

Serve immediately, when hot, or use in recipes such as Mulled Wine Mousse, above.



21 thoughts on “mulled wine mousse with poached pears

    1. I used a quarter of a small onion per foot. No need to chop it finely, as your feet will do the smooshing work. Careful though, you will perspire onion for a time. Luckily no one is here with me but the cat.

      I’ve read before to do this at night, while wearing heavy socks. Haven’t tried that yet. You can also eat pieces of raw onion and that should help, but make sure it’s freshly cut.

  1. I poached pears in wine and then reduced it down and drizzled the sauce over them with shaved dark chocolate. It was lovely.

  2. Yum. I tend to love anything with the name mousse.
    I love your tree. Real trees are of such ridiculous price around these forest free parts. Your tree would cost about $80.
    Everyone here just goes for the good ole faky. I sort of hate it.
    And the obligatory lights on the cactus. I sort of like that.

    Your wreath is amazing. I want to smell pine. Real ones. Not just my Meyers Iowa Pine candle. It’s not half bad though.

    1. Whoaaaa, $80. When I ran a Christmas tree lot, we overcharged the heck out of our trees, but we were in a metro area and the money went to student scholarships. Still, $80, oof.

      But lights on the cactus, that sounds festive and wonderful, and long as you don’t get prickled(?). And I like the sound of your pine candle…. although are there even pine trees in Iowa? I’m sure there are, I guess.

  3. That’s it, I seriously need to find me a non-alcho substitute for mulled wine … this looks and sounds delicious.

    Also, I love your wreath! I’m not particularly a fan of over the top Christmas decorations but the natural simplicity of yours seems just right. I’m guessing it smells gorgeous too.

    1. Do you have any sparkling grape juice in Australia? That could work. Or any robust fruit juice could work. And I was wondering about apple cider, too.

      Thank you, I love my wreath too! It was a fun labor of love:) And yes, it smells great!

      1. As possibly one of the biggest consumers in the country I can say with a definite yes, we do have sparkling grape juice … I have found that it is sometimes a good substitute and sometimes not, depending on what I use it in. I do believe I will have to give the mousse (Moose!) a try though, it sounds soooo good.

  4. All my fingers and toes crossed for you for the second interview, my dearest plants-knowing one! Sending you all the goodness and hope and certainty in the world. Or, at least, my current share of it. xo

    1. Thank you, sweet Hannah. I am frantically studying and going over EVERYTHING I EVER LEARNED to try to be prepared:) Your goodness, hope and certainty are appreciated so so so so much! xo

  5. Emma, a visit here always makes me giggle. Onions in your socks! That’s a good image;)
    I’m a sucker for boozy poached pears and never have imagined a boozy mousse to go with. Yum!
    And I’m glad you shared your holiday decorations. Love the wood-burned ode to potato inspecting. Classy.
    I hope your holidays are just right,

  6. YES: i wonder what else i can ask for that will just magically appear? And i have to know: you made those ornaments, didn’t you. you strung that garland. you handiworked your tree, and i am IN LOVE WITH IT.

    IN LOVE.

    all i can say is this. Emma Shop. Etsy. Sells ornaments, and photos, and garland. Also other things made of wood. Just saying.

  7. This was just the cheeky chuckle that I needed. “onions in your socks!!”…NEVER have I heard that one. Your wreath is beautiful and looks so Christmas-y against your red door. Good luck with your interview and I hope the onions do their trick!

    1. Oh, and I have returned to say that i made mulled wine over Xmas. I am completely smitten and thought that it was one of the BEST treats over the holidays!

  8. HOW COOL. I do love that you included all the faffery and accessories and table dressings in the photo, just like they did in old cookbooks. I know they’re kind of terrible, but I’m so fond of that kind of photography too. And this mousse sounds so utterly delicious. Hope the onions do the trick and you’re feeling better soon! x

  9. Emma, I just saw on Facebook that you have a new job – CONGRATS! I hope it allows you to write. I love your way with words. You always crack me up.
    Wishing you all the best in 2013!

And now I'd like to pass the mic / So you c'mon and do anything you like ...aka, Leave your reply.

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