Caramelized Upside-Down Pear-Ginger Cake
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons light-colored corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)
3 medium firm Bosc pears
1 2-layer-size package spice cake mix
1 tablespoon finely chopped crystallized ginger
Vanilla ice cream
Purchased caramel sauce, warmed (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a medium skillet, combine the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup. Cook and stir over medium heat until combined. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla. Divide mixture evenly between two 9x1-1/2-inch round cake pans. Sprinkle with nuts, if using.
Core pears and, if desired, peel pears. Cut into thin wedges. Arrange pears in the pans. Set aside.
Prepare cake mix according to package directions, except add the 1 additional egg. Stir in finely chopped crystallized ginger. Spoon batter evenly over pear slices in pans.
Bake in preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near centers comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 5 minutes. Loosen cakes from sides of pans; invert onto serving platters. Serve warm with ice cream and, if desired, warmed caramel sauce.