If you’ve visited Morocco, I am sure one of your abiding memories will be the smell of spices in the souk.
We discovered one tiny shop and asked for some of our favourite spice mixture ras-el-hanout. Rather than taking a packet off the shelf, the owner seemed to fly round his small shop picking up a few spices here, and a few spices there creating a tantalising mixture of his own recipe. He was ready to grind them for us, but we elected to keep them whole. So now we can mill some of the spice whenever we need it for the freshest flavour. Just opening the packet evokes that wonderful day in the souk.
My recipe today is inspired by a mulled wine recipe. Imagine a mixture of cinnamon, allspice, cardamom and cloves – the smell is delicious. Using whole spices will give the mixture a wonderfully mellow flavour. Choose a mid-price red wine that you’d enjoy drinking.This is in fact not an alcoholic dessert, as the alcohol evaporates.But if you’d like to take it up a notch, add a tot of sloe gin.
I’m using some lovely local Gloucestershire pears that are great for cooking. Choose conference or concord pears if you have no local pears to hand. Although I suggest adding some sugar, this is the type of recipe where you should taste to see whether it suits your palate. A lot depends on the pears you use and the wine. Add more sugar as required.
The pears will turn a beautiful red colour when cooked. Serve in a bowl with a little of the liquid. The rest you could serve in a glass. It’s a warming, comforting dessert, perfect for cold winter days.
Of course, you could leave out the pears entirely, and enjoy as mulled wine!