Spicy Caramel Pears
15 whole cloves
2 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp. black peppercorns
4 pears (bosc, comice, or butter)
4 tbsp. butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup Cognac, brandy or rum
1/4 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Coarsely crush the spices with a mortar and pestle or break them up in a plastic bag by smashing them with a heavy pot, rolling pin, etc...
Peel and quarter the pears.
Core them, slicing away the fibrous parts in the center.
Cut the butter into small pieces and put it in an 8"x8" baking dish with the brown sugar.
Put the baking dish in the oven for a few minutes to melt the butter.
Remove, then place the pears in the baking dish, add the spices and the liquor and toss to coat.
Cover with foil and bake 35-40 minutes (time will depend on the firmness of the pears).
Remove the dish from the oven two or three times during baking to stir so the pears stay evenly coated.
The pears are ready when they can be easily pierced with the tip of a knife.
Remove them from the oven and pull them from the baking dish with a slotted spoon, reserving the liquid.
Scrape the juices and spices out of the dish into a saute pan.
Add the heavy cream to the liquid and cook over medium heat until the mixture turns a deep color, thickens and caramelizes.
Strain to remove the spice pieces and serve over the pears.
Pairs Well With
Maybe it's my Yankee upbringing, but I've always been partial to fruit desserts. This recipe is from David Lebovitz' "Room for Dessert."
I don't always strain the caramel, since that is just more time between making and eating, but the spice chunks can be annoying. Sometimes I don't bother with the cream either, but it does make things that much smoother.