Early this month, I found myself with a great abundance of pears. A good friend has a big pear tree in her backyard and a lot of fruit. I had taken a large bag home after Labor Day and two weeks later, she brought me an even larger bag. Suddenly, I had a lot of quickly ripening pears that needed to be addressed. So I made a plan. Jars were purchased and pears were peeled and cored, preserved and pickled. I infused vodka, made a big batch of spiced pear butter and best of all … I roasted.
Roasted, caramelized pears are something wonderful. A blast of oven heat transforms what can be a rather delicate flavor into something more, an intense version of itself with a sexy, beautifully burnished coat. They’re delicious and unbelievably gorgeous. The original recipe is from A Sweet Life: Desserts from Chanterelle by Kate Zuckerman, a book I very much like. In fact, after looking it up on Amazon to get the link I realized this recipe is the on the cover. Isn’t it stunning? That cover shot is what captured my attention and why I bought the book. I wanted those pears. I needed those pears. And I continue to want those pears, just as Fall starts to enter our consciousness and all the way through the Spring thaws. They’re delicious, impressive, fairly easy if a little futzy to make and never fail impress even the hardest to please.
The original recipe was quite large and called for more honey but after making these for a friend who dislikes that flavor, I came up with a version I actually like better. Less honey, a little maple syrup and some warm spices give the caramelized syrup a more rounded flavor I prefer.
You can serve these as is but they’re particularly nice with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side and a little drizzle of the caramelized syrup. In the off chance that you have any leftovers, be sure to add them to your morning oatmeal. A bowl of grains never tasted so good.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: A STUNNER. You have to sit by the oven for a while – every 15 minutes they need to be turned – but that extra attention ensures they’ll bake evenly golden brown and glazed. Let them rip for the full time upright and yes, they’ll be cooked but they won’t be pretty. Take the time to gently bathe the pears in the sweet caramelized syrup, laying them this way and that, to and fro, and the result will be stunning. And delicious. A showstopper, to be sure. And special bonus time!! These can be made ahead!
On this blog four years ago: Classic Ratatouille
On this blog three years ago: Chicken Sour Cream Enchiladas
On this blog two years ago: Plum Kuchen, Unprocessed October
On this blog last year: Raw Kale and Roasted Squash Salad
SPICED HONEY MAPLE ROASTED PEARS
NOTE: my pears were on the small side so I used 6 when making this recipe for the photos but if you’re using large pears, four is more realistic.
1” strip of lemon zest, peeled with a vegetable peeler
4 large pears
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup honey
¼ cup maple syrup
1 ¼ cups water
1 cinnamon stick
4 whole cloves
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Peel the lemon zest strip in one long piece with a vegetable peeler
- Peel the pears, leaving the stem intact and cut just enough off the bottom so they sits nicely upright.
- In a baking pan, add the sugar, honey, maple syrup and water and stir to combine.
- Nestle the pears upright in the pan tuck in the lemon zest, cinnamon stick, cloves then dot the butter around the pan.
- Roast upright for 30 minutes.
- Turn the pears on one side and roast another 20 minutes.
- Turn the pears on the other side and roast another 20 minutes until tender.
- Stand the pears upright, baste well with the syrup and roast another 15 minutes.
- Baste and roast another 15 minutes.
- Baste and roast for the third and final 15 minute round. The pears should be tender throughout and nice and bronzed and the sauce thick and syrupy. If not, roast another 10-15 minutes.
- Serve warm or room temperature. The sauce tends to harden as it sits. If needed, gently rewarm to loosen the pears for easy removal.
- Can be made up to one day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature, gently rewarm before serving.