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Sweet Risotto with Pear Compote and Ganache

Sweet Risotto with Pear Compote and Ganache


Andrew Barrow is a busy British food and wine writer and photographer who writes for a number of print publications and maintains a suite of blogs about food and wine which are listed, linked and described on this page at, his flagship wine blog.

I've been corresponding with Andrew about food and photography almost since the day I started and he has been both encouraging and inspiring. The stunning quality and mood of his photography, whether the subject is food or more general, is a pleasure every time I visit one of his sites, and the breadth and sophistication of his food taste is constantly eye-opening. Add in his fresh, low-key writing style and the result is a pleasant few moments returned on every visit to his sites.

When I checked in at Andy's food blog Spittoon Extra a couple of weeks ago it was therefore no surprise to be blown away by his Dessert of the Week feature, where he presented Sweet Risotto with Rhubarb Compote. Though I love all preparations using rice, including of course rice pudding, and have spent many, many hours standing with a spoon over pots of risotto, I had never heard of or thought to try a sweet risotto. However, within minutes of clicking on that post I knew that situation would come to an end soon.

Rhubarb isn't generally available in the winter in the U.S., but since every year around this time I become obsessed with pears and pear preparations I had no trouble deciding what to use instead. I tinkered a bit with the risotto recipe but basically it's the same as Andrew's, using U.S. measures and adding a bit of the compote to the pot at the finish. The pear compote is a simple poaching of diced pears in sweet wine with some subtle flavorings and the ganache is an adaptation of Emeril Lagasse's method, which adds a bit of light corn syrup to deliver a more reliable and pleasing consistency to the result.

As you might imagine, this dessert was a big hit among the diners at my table!

Sweet Risotto with Pear Compote and Ganache

adapted from a presentation by Andrew Barrow

serves 4 - 6

Sweet Risotto

1 T butter
1-1/2 C whole milk
2 C water
1 C arborio rice
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 C pear compote (see below)
2 - 3 T heavy cream
1/2 vanilla bean, split
1 egg yolk

Combine the milk and water and bring the mixture to a very slow simmer on a burner adjacent to the one you will use for the risotto. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add the rice and cook over medium heat, stirring, for a couple of minutes until the rice is coated with the butter. Add 2 cups of the milk/water mixture, the salt and the vanilla bean. Cook slowly, moderating the heat to maintain a medium simmer and stirring constantly. When the mixture becomes less soupy add another half cup of the liquid. After about 15 minutes taste the rice for doneness and continue adding liquid, stirring and tasting until the rice grains are cooked. When done they should be firm to the tooth but have no chalkiness at their core. When the rice is done -- it usually takes 20 - 25 minutes -- add the egg yolk, the cream and the pear compote and stir a few more times. The rice should be firm enough to stand in a little mound on a plate but not too dry. If the risotto is a little stiff add some milk, water or the liquid from the compote until the consistency is just right. Serve immediately, with a spoonful of the pear compote on the side and a dollop of ganache (below).

Pear Compote

makes about 2-1/2 - 3 cups

3 ripe d'Anjou pears
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 C water
zest of 1/4 lemon
1/2 C good quality muscat wine
1 whole clove
1/2 vanilla bean, split

Peel, core and dice the pears. Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer about 10 - 15 minutes, until the fruit is tender but not mushy. Can be made in advance. Warm slightly before serving.


adapted from a recipe by Emeril LaGasse

makes about 1-1/2 cup

1-1/2 T light corn syrup
3 T heavy cream
6 oz dark chocolate (I use Scharffen Berger 70% bittersweet)
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Mix the syrup and cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Break or chop the chocolate in pieces and add it to the pan. Stir to combine the ingredients as the chocolate melts. Off heat, add the vanilla. Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat gently to serve. Can be thinned with water, coffee or milk if a lighter consistency is preferred.


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"encouraging and inspiring" "stunning quality and mood of his photography" "breadth and sophistocation of his food taste is constantly eye-opening" "fresh, low-key writing style"

Oh man, I blush!

This looks absolutely fantastic!

All that and chocolate too? Excuse me, I need to catch my breath ...

so how is the risotto sweet?
no sugar of honey? when I make sweet risotto I stir in a little honey at the end.

So far, I've only had savory risotto. But I love rice pudding, so I have a feeling I'd easily like this dish...the flavors sound warm and delicious!

The recipe looks great. I also love the fabric behind the food in the picture. Any idea where I could find that?


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