You can use any kind of firm, tart-sweet apple for this dessert, and for this I used some organic Pink Lady apples from California. They work well for poaching because they hold their texture without turning mealy. Granny Smith apples work well for poaching but are far less sweet, so if you want the same sweet/tart balance you could also go with Cortlands or Honey Crisp apples.
For the poaching liquid I used Concannon Vineyards 2009 Conservancy Crimson and Clover, which is a beautifully balanced red blend that reduced into an opulent syrup that I served with the finished dessert. Here is the technique:
Red Wine Poached Apples with Mascarpone and Pistachios
1 1/4 cups fruity red wine, such as Crimson and Clover
1/2 vanilla bean (or two teaspoons good-quality vanilla extract)
1/4 cup water
2 firm, tart-sweet apples, peeled, halved, and cored
3/4 cup mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup shelled, roasted and salted pistachios, coarsely chopped
fresh lemon zest
Pour the wine into a medium saucepan with a lid. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the wine, and then toss in the pod. Stir in the water and add the apples. Bring to a low boil and cook, covered, for about ten minutes, or until the exteriors of the apples are tender when pierced with the tip of a knife, but the centers still feel a little firm. If you prefer completely soft fruit, cook for another five to ten minutes.
Use a slotted spoon to remove the apples and the vanilla bean pod from the liquid. Bring the wine mixture back to a boil and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until reduced to a syrupy consistency. This will take about five minutes.
Fill each apple with about three tablespoons of mascarpone and serve on some of the reduced wine syrup. Sprinkle with some of the pistachios and lemon zest and serve. This is beautiful warm or cold, but if you plan to serve it cold do not assemble until you are ready to serve, or your mascarpone will turn an alarming color. Serves four.
This less-beautiful shot is to show you the interior of the cooked apples–if you cook them longer they will go totally soft and will absorb the color of the wine all the way through. This is a personal preference, but I like the textural contrast of leaving the centers of the apples a little firm. With the mascarpone, you will feel like you are eating the most elegant little cheesecake.
Disclaimer: I received a marketing sample of Crimson and Clover, but was not monetarily compensated for this post, and all opinions, as always, are honest and true as the day is long. Plus they are mine. You get the idea.
Thanks for reading,