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Last up in my series in collaboration with DaVinci Wine is my recipe for Chianti Poached Apples with Labneh and Toasted Walnuts. This easy, make-ahead dessert is lovely for a holiday gathering . . . You can make it in advance and spend more time with guests, drinking, eating and being merry.

One of the nicest parts about eating in Italy is how rustic and casual everything feels. The quality of the natural ingredients is so high there, it's as if the cooks are just gently coaxing out the best parts of each food, nothing more. The inspiration for these poached apples comes directly from this attitude -- the idea that yummy whole foods are best left barely touched. The DaVinci Chianti is a wonderful option for this dessert as it's mellow, but with a light tannic touch that perfectly balances the tartness of both the apple and the richness of the labneh. The chianti is substantial enough to drink with the assembled dessert as well. This dessert and wine pairing is just the thing for a little treat with family around a fire staying cozy inside or celebrating with friends at an outdoor fete, as they often do in Italy!

Chianti Poached Apples with Labneh and Toasted Walnuts 
serves 4

For the apples: 
1 1/2 cup DaVinci Chianti wine
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup apple juice
zest of 1/2 an orange
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
4 fuji or granny smith apples

Combine the wine, brown sugar, apple juice, orange peel and spices, plus 1 1/2 cup water in a large pot over medium heat. Bring to a boil, and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Add the apples and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for about 25 minutes, until apples are tender when tested with a knife. Remove apples with a slotted spoon and heat wine poaching liquid on medium heat until it's reduced to about 1/2 cup. Set aside until ready to plate.

For the labneh:
1 cup labneh
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Stir labneh, honey and vanilla extract to combine. Set aside until using.

For the candied walnuts 
1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
sprinkle of sea salt

In a medium pan, heat the butter, walnuts and brown sugar on medium. Stir continuously for about 5-7 minutes, until the sugar has melted and walnuts are starting to smell toasty. Pour hot walnuts onto a plate and let cool (they will harden up).

To plate: For each portion, place a dollop of sweetened labneh onto the center of a plate. Top with room temperature apples, drizzle a little of the reduced wine sauce on top and scatter with candied walnuts. Serve immediately.

styling: Joya Rose
model: Laura Weiland


  1. Leela, I am constantly in awe of your photography. It's magical! What a lovely post and I adore these chianti poached apples. Brilliant my dear! xo Karista

  2. I love os much your photos!
    Regards from Bcn

  3. beautiful shots - love her dress. and yummy!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Beautiful post!
    Leela, do you peel the apples before poaching?


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