created at: 2013-03-18

Mention Manischewitz to any non-Jew and you’re likely to get the same reaction: Her face will contort as she says, “That stuff is so sweet!” She’s right, of course—but that sweetness isn’t bad. In fact, it makes the wine all the more versatile. Manischewitz can be used to drink, cook with, and make Passover desserts that don’t taste like…Passover desserts. Take, for example, Manischewitz poached pears.

For such an elegant dessert, poached pears are pretty darn easy. Feel free to adjust this recipe to your taste. If you find the wine a bit too boozy, add an extra spoonful of sugar. Include as many (or as few) of the flavorings as you’d like. Just don’t rush the reducing of the poaching liquid—once thickened, it becomes a glossy, spoonable sauce that’s the perfect topping on a simple and sophisticated Passover poached pear ice cream sundae.

1 (750 ml bottle) Manischewitz (flavor of your choice)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
4 Bosc pears, peeled, cored, and sliced in half
Chopped pecans (optional), for sprinkling

Optional flavorings:

Cardamom pods
Cinnamon stick
Star anise
Whole cloves
Citrus zest

1. In medium tall-sided saucepan, stir together Manischewitz, water, sugar, and any flavorings. Bring to simmer.

2. Add pears to simmering liquid, making sure each half is fully submerged. (You can place a piece of parchment paper over the surface of the liquid, which helps keep the pears submerged.) Simmer until pears can be pierced with a paring knife with very little resistance, about 30 minutes.

3. Using tongs, remove pears from pot and set aside to cool. The pears are now ready to eat, but the sauce needs an overnight rest to thicken up to a glossy consistency. If reserving pears until sauce is ready, transfer to airtight container and refrigerate.

4. Bring poaching liquid back up to simmer and reduce until thickened considerably, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and allow sauce to cool to room temperature. Then transfer to airtight container and leave at room temperature overnight. (Sauce will become thick and glossy as it sits overnight.)

5. To serve, slice pears thinly and fan on plate or over scoop of ice cream. Sprinkle with chopped pecans (if using), drizzle with sauce, and enjoy.