Any delicate red will work for this recipe, but merlot or cabernet are best. Avoid heavy shiraz.
750ml red wine (merlot or cabernet sauvignon)
250g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean, split
1 dried bay leaf
4 firm pears, peeled, stems left on
80g amaretti biscuits, crumbled
¼ cup icing sugar, sifted
Finely grated zest of 2 oranges
Combine wine, sugar, vanilla bean and bay leaf in a large saucepan. Heat over a high heat until boiling. Reduce heat to low.
Meanwhile, use a melon baller to remove pear cores starting from the base and discard. Put pears in the wine mixture and add water to just cover them. Place a disc of baking paper on top and use a small plate to weight pears down to keep them immersed.
Simmer pears gently for 20 minutes or until tender. Remove pan from heat and cool pears in the liquid.
Remove pears from liquid. Set aside. Return wine syrup to a medium heat and bring to boil. Boil for 20–25 minutes, until liquid has reduced and become syrupy.
Put mascarpone, amaretti, icing sugar and orange zest in a large bowl and mix until smooth. Halve pears lengthways and fill holes with amaretti mixture.
Serve pears drizzled with red wine syrup.