1 cup sugar
1 cup unsulfured light molasses
1/2 cup corn oil
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsps baking soda
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 cup boiling water
3 cups water
1 cup SIMI Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc
1 cup sugar
2 tsps ground cardamom
4 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
4 lemon zest strips, each 2 inches long by 1/2 inch wide
2 tbsps fresh lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 pears - Bartlett or Comice, peeled, halved with stem intact, and cored
1 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp sugar
To make the gingerbread, preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter one 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, molasses, corn oil, and eggs until blended. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cloves, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and stir until combined. Add the boiling water and stir until well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.
Bake the gingerbread until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Let cool completely in the pan on a rack. To unmold, run a knife along the inside edge of the pan to loosen the gingerbread, invert the pan onto the rack, lift off the pan, and turn the gingerbread upright. The gingerbread will taste better if allowed to sit for a day before serving. It will keep well wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.
To poach the pears, in a large saucepan, combine the water, wine, sugar, cardamom, cloves, cinnamon sticks, lemon zest and juice, and vanilla bean and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add the pears, return the liquid to a boil, adjust the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and poach the pears just until tender when pierced with a skewer, about 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Transfer the pears and their liquid to a bowl, cover tightly, and refrigerate until serving. They will keep for up to 1 week.
Just before serving, in a bowl, combine the cream and sugar and whip with an electric mixer on medium-high speed or with a whisk by hand until soft peaks form.
To serve, cut the gingerbread into slabs and place on individual dessert plates. Lean a pear half against the gingerbread and drizzle a little of the poaching liquid on the pear and the gingerbread. Place a scoop of the whipped cream alongside.
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