I often find myself wondering what to make for dessert and think by going shopping inspiration will come. I should know by now that usually it doesn't! Having gone about this same old routine year in year out I think it's time I had a better system! I should be able to remember or to check one of my umpteenth lists to remind myself that pears are it!
The beauty of this recipe apart from the magical combination of wine and caramel is its stretch ability factor! If unexpected visitors appear or you just fancy some extras, add another couple of pears to the pot - there always seems to be enough sauce!
I have adapted this from an original recipe published by the River Cafe (Book Two), London.
Preheat oven - 180˚C
Preparation time: Pears 5 minutes - Caramel 15 minutes
Cooking time: 50 minutes
4-8 cooking pears, any variety in season
4-8 wide pieces lemon zest
Juice 1 lemon
1 vanilla pod or 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
200 ml Sangiovese – or any light red wine
300g caster sugar
Wash pears and slice the bottom off each one, retain storks. Hollow out the cores using an apple corer. Put the vanilla seeds or a little vanilla paste into the cavity of each pear and close opening with lemon zest. Stand pears upright in an oven to table dish. Squeeze over lemon juice, cover with a piece of foil and place in the oven for 10 minutes.
Gently melt the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil without stirring. Boil on a low heat for 15 minutes. Critical point: the moment the sugar starts to darken and smells bitter remove it from the heat immediately. Take the saucepan to the sink for safety and add the wine - it will splutter furiously! Pour the caramel over the pears and return pears to the oven for 40 minutes. Baste pears half way through the cooking time. Remove pears from the oven, they will look all shriveled and crinkly and test if cooked with a fine skewer.
Cool pears down before serving. I love them served warm or cold when the caramel has thickened and the flavours have developed. They are quite delicious!
Vanilla paste is a new product and is a very good substitute for the real thing!
1 teaspoon = 1 vanilla pod - can’t be bad!