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.



honey tangerine and lime poached pears

It was recently revealed to me that my fella has a thing for poached pears. It was recently discovered that the grocery store did not have any pomelos for sale. It was recently decided upon that honey tangerines are jewels of deliciousness, and it was recently intuited that said tangerines and lime would work nicely together.

All of these seemingly disparate items were united yesterday, when the stars aligned to create these light-yet-satisfying Honey Tangerine and Lime Poached Pears.

The closest I’d come to poached pears in my entire life (I think) were the canned kind, notably those in small Fruit Cocktail Cups that I used to eat for lunch in elementary school. The pears were always my least favorite part of the fruit cocktail equation, often eschewed for the tastier mandarin oranges and special-er maraschino cherries.

While a lot of poached pear recipes use a red wine base, I wanted something lighter, that would highlight the tart sweetness of a citrus syrup. Erin of yummy supper had a nice post last fall about pears poached in Lillet and citrus, but not surprisingly my small town grocery store was Lillet-less. Listlesslly left without Lillet, I briefly considered taking the pears in a Calvados direction.

I decided to let the citrus shine without including any frivolous (read: expensive) liqueur. Rather, a sprinkling of dried rosemary introduced an herbiness that played nicely with the tangerine-lime combination.


My pears, once peeled, looked as if they had been doing a bit of roughhousing with the locally-grown potatoes in the grocery storeroom after hours. It’s a nice grocery store, I promise. It has a fantastic meat selection, but bruised pears and no pomelos. You win some, you lose some: I win bacon, for instance. And if I wanted to, plenty of chicken livers and cow feet to boot.

I made this dessert as a capper to my Valentine’s Feast of Fun, which featured two kinds of pierogi, lots of butter, a smattering of Alfredo sauce, and some bubbly Prosecco. And since sweets are the best expression of my love, I made a second dessert as well. Who would only make one dessert for their sweetheart? [I would, if I had a job.] If Red Velvet Crème Brûlée (RVCB) sounds right up your alley, browse the interweb to find a good recipe. I’d link you, but the RVCB blogger’s writing style was so obnoxious that I can’t post the link in good faith, sorry.

This dessert is perfect for any occasion. The citrus makes it a welcoming choice whether the conditions outside are wintry or warm, and the pears’ juicy lightness is the perfect way to end a starchy meal – or the perfect preamble to a second dessert !

Honey Tangerine and Lime Poached Pears

{Original recipe, with pearls of pear wisdom garnered from yummy supper}

Makes 4 servings.


2 honey tangerines (1 zested, both sliced thin)
1 lime, sliced thin
10 peppercorns
Several pinches of dried rosemary
5 c. (1.2 liters) water
1 1/2 c. (300 g) sugar
4 pears (I used both Bosc and Anjou pears)


Heat all but the pears in a 4-quart pan (one that will fit the pears nicely) mixture begins to simmer. Meanwhile, peel pears and cut off a small sliver of the pear bottom to encourage them to stay strong and stand on their own.

Submerge pears in pan, and keep at a simmer. If pears are not covered by liquid, add additional water:sugar mixture until fully submerged. Put a pan-sized circle of parchment over the pears, and weigh all down with a pot lid – this way, they will be kept from additional roughhousing.

Simmer for 30-40 minutes, depending on the pears’ initial ripeness. Mine were somewhat unripe, and took 40 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit an additional 30 minutes.

Place each pear and some of its decorative syrupy allies in a small bowl or glass. Add in syrup if desired. Serve immediately, or allow to chill before serving.