*This post is the third in our Date Night In series with Chateau St. Jean. They (and we) believe wine and date nights are a great pair. This month we’re cozying up with their Cabernet Sauvignon with rich berry and soft spice notes that pair beautifully with my recipe for a Chocolate Tart with Poached Pears.
Recently I gave an interview in which I was asked something to the effect of “How do you avoid the stress of the holidays?” I understand that question, absolutely. There are so many extra things that make their way onto the already packed to do list and then there are all the things I feel like I ‘should’ be doing. Making crafts with the kids, bringing homemade treats to all the neighbors, buying the perfect gifts, saying a resounding YES! to all the parties, and decorating my home to rival that of a December West Elm catalogue. But mostly what I felt as I read that question was a pang of sadness.
The holidays and stress shouldn’t go hand in hand. I know, wishful thinking right? And completely naive perhaps. Money can be tight, family can be a burden to some and others may just not be particular into the holidays. I can empathize with that but what I love about the holidays, when they are freed up from expectations and ‘shoulds’, is that their purpose is to bring hope, joy and peace. What if we actively sought out those moments during this busy time? I wonder what I would say yes to and what would get a resounding NO! And can we all agree that we need to stop ‘should-ing’ on ourselves?
In seasons of great busyness our date nights are often the first to go. They quickly fall off the calendar to make way for another task we’ve deemed somehow more important than our own connection. This season I’m fighting valiantly to put joy above tasks, peace above stress, and a quiet date night with my husband above yet another trip to Target.
Now I realize this season is already a bit indulgent but I firmly believe that a quiet evening alone with your partner deserves a bit of fanfare in the form of deeply blushed pears and bittersweet chocolate. The enviable pears bath in a mixture of wine, cinnamon, star anise and sugar while hot cream turns a flurry of chopped chocolate into what Gabe deems “the best chocolate pudding ever”. The wine that dressed the pears in a stunning holiday frock reduces to a syrupy sauce for serving. Save any leftover sauce for vanilla ice cream.
Chocolate Tart with Chateau St. Jean Cabernet Sauvignon Poached Pears
Serves 6 to 8 (makes one 9 or 10-inch tart)
Pair with Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot
1 recipe pie or tart dough
1 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick
2 star anise
1 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups chopped semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate
2 to 3 firm pears, peeled
Whipped cream, for serving
Chef 1: Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a 9-inch tart pan with the pie dough and bake until golden and crisp, about 20 – 30 minutes. Let cool completely.
Chef 2: In a small saucepan combine the wine, sugar, cinnamon stick and star anise. Add the pears then bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the pears are tender when poked with a knife, about 30 minutes. As the pears simmer gently spoon over the wine and rotate them every now and again so they poach evenly.
Chef 1: In another small saucepan warm the cream just to a simmer then pour over the chocolate. Let this sit for a minute, add a pinch of salt then stir well to combine. Carefully pour this into the tart. Let this sit until the chocolate is mostly firm.
Chef 2: Remove the pears from the wine and let cool slightly before cutting them in half. Carefully lay the pear halves on the tart. Drizzle the tops of the pears with the wine syrup.
Chef 1: Pour a couple of glasses of wine.
Chef 2: Serve the tart with a nice dollop of lightly sweetened cream.