Fancy-Pants Caramel Pears

This fall party dessert, based on a recipe from Epicurious.com, looks as good as it tastes — and it tastes amazing! Since it can be made ahead of time, then reheated and assembled at the last minute, it’s an ideal addition to a holiday dinner menu. There’s no fuss or muss and no worry about results. It dazzles every single time.  And that’s something else to be thankful for!

 

Pastry Cutouts

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed

 

Pears and sauce

2 large barley ripe Bartlett pears (about 1 pound)

2 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into bits

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tbsp lemon juice

1/2 cup heavy cream

confectioners’ sugar for sprinkling

 

Cutouts Prep

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F and lightly butter a baking sheet.
  2. Sprinkle work surface with granulated sugar and roll out puff pastry until about 1/8 inch thick. Flip it over to coat both sides with sugar.
  3. Cut out four large pear shapes and transfer to baking sheet. Use the pastry scraps to cut out leaves and stems, then attach them to your pastry pears. Prick pastry with a fork and put baking sheet in freezer about 15 minutes, until pastry is well chilled.
  4. Bake pastry in middle of oven about 25 minutes, or until golden brown; quickly transfer to a rack to cool. Cutouts can be made a day ahead.

 

Pears and Sauce

 

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F and lightly butter a baking dish just large enough to hold pear halves in one layer. Peel, halve, and core pears, then place them in baking dish, cut sides up.
  2. Divide butter between pear centres, sprinkle 1/4 cup granulated sugar over top, then sprinkle lemon juice over pears. Bake for 15 minutes in middle of oven. Remove dish from oven and turn pears so cut sides are down. Baste with cooking juices and return to oven. Bake pears about 15 minutes more, until tender. Transfer pears to a plate and keep warm.
  3. Pour cooking juices into a small saucepan. Add remaining granulated sugar and boil, swirling pan, until mix turns golden caramel. Slowly add cream (mix will bubble up) and simmer sauce, whisking, until thickened slightly, about five minutes.

Sprinkle each pastry pear with confectioners’ sugar, thinly slice pear halves and fan them out decoratively on the pastry, drizzle with caramel sauce, then take a bow!

Serves 4. Double the recipe for a dinner party.

 

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