When you’re entertaining for family and friends, it’s good to have a simple yet impressive dessert up your sleeve. This is that dessert for me –and you’ll be just as proud serving it as something that takes you three times as long to prepare.
Recently my husband and I ate at Craft in NYC, and for dessert, we had an unforgettable salted honey ice cream. I’ve been obsessed with salted honey ever since. I knew I wanted to combine it with pears as soon as I saw this week’s contest theme. I decided to create a salted honey caramel, then roast a few halved pears in the sauce (basting a few times along the way) until they’re soft and the sauce bubbly. To make the sauce, I used turbinado instead of granulated sugar, both water and pear juice (a nod to Karen DeMasco’s caramelized roasted peaches) and a few sprigs of lemon thyme while roasting the pears (a nod to Claudia Fleming’s chestnut honey-roasted pears). It’s a completely addictive, easy-to-prepare dessert – one that uses a single pan (an important detail if you detest washing dishes like I do) and can be easily doubled, tripled, etc. depending on your number of guests.
The pears are delicious served on their own, or with some crème fraiche, ricotta or vanilla ice cream on the side. They’d also be fabulous with a simple pound cake or almond cake. Or even as a topping for pancakes or greek yogurt…the possibilities are endless!
2 to 4
large firm pears, peeled, then cut in half and cored (you can leave stems intact if you like)
your favorite honey (I used chestnut honey)
In a sauce pan, just large enough to fit 4 halved pears, combine the turbinado sugar, honey, and water. Cook over medium heat, without stirring, until the sugar is fully dissolved and the sauce is a deep golden caramel color – about 6 to 8 minutes. There’s no need to use a candy thermometer here – just go by the color, which will be a shade or two darker than your starting point. Off the heat, add the pear juice and fleur de sel, and stir to combine.
Next, add the halved pears, cut-side down, to the caramel sauce, and simmer over medium-low heat until they begin to caramelize around the edges, about 5 to 7 minutes. Nestle the sprigs of thyme around the pears. (Note: you don't need to double or triple the amount of thyme if you're making this for a crowd; two or three sprigs should be plenty.)
Into your oven: Roast for about 15 minutes (still cut-side down), basting the pears once with the sauce. Flip the pears so they’re cut-side up, and roast for about 10 to 15 minutes longer, basting once more, until the pears are soft and tender and cooked through. Total cooking time will depend on the ripeness of your pears.
Serve warm or at room temperature, with extra sauce drizzled over the pears. See headnote for serving ideas.