Dylan Moran once said “You can get addicted to anything, except for fruit.” I wholeheartedly agree. Fruit’s alright. But I never crave it. There are no wistful daydreams about ruby red apples, no heated discussions on when to buy the ripest mangoes, and certainly no long and lonely nights of clutching the doona tightly, thinking naughty thoughts about sliced watermelon. It just isn’t like that. I will just briefly not that I have been forcing myself to up my fruit intake, just so that my conscience will shut up and let me have an extra chocolate, after I’ve eaten my nectarine. Fruit is alright. Just don’t get me started on fruit salad again, because we all know that it turns me into an irritated opinionated brat, and that’s not what we want now, is it.
One way to make fruit desirable is to disguise it. I’m not talking about the spinach and beetroot brownies or the avocado chocolate mousse here. I’m talking about obvious disguises, namely sugar. Sexy delicious sugar. Give me some pears and some caramelised sugar and let them tango in the oven for a few hours. Now that’s what I call natural beauty. Gleaming little globes of almost translucent auburn-coloured pears, enrobed in rich layers of cinnamony caramel, which upon contact with the cold creamy ice cream (which you will hopefully eat it with) turns the experience into a chewy mouthful of wonderfulness.
Roasted Caramel Pears
Serves about 6
6 firm, ripe pears
440g caster sugar
¼ tsp salt
1 cinnamon stick
2 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp vanilla essence
Preheat your oven to 160°C. Peel the pears and cut them in half lengthways, keeping the stems intact. Don’t remove the core and seeds.
Place the pear halves in a large bowl and squeeze over the lemon. Toss the pears and cover with cold water. This will keep them from browning.
In a large heavy saucepan, combine the water, sugar and salt and stir over a high heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the cinnamon stick and bring to the boil. Let it boil, untouched, until the colour starts to take on a light golden hue. Watch closely please, okay? We all know how quickly sugar can turn on us. So after about 8 minutes of staring at the pot, which feels like an eternity, but be patient, you should have a lovely golden caramel, smelling deliciously of cinnamon. Quickly remove from the heat and stir in the butter and the vanilla.
Remove the pears from their lemon bath and place them cut-side-down on a large baking tray. Pour over the caramel. It will have thickened again, but don’t worry, this will change again shortly. And also, add the cinnamon stick to the pan. The longer it hangs out with the caramel, the better. Put the pan in the oven and as soon as the caramel starts to melt again, spoon over the pears. Repeat this every half hour for the next 4 hours. The pears are ready when they are an even colour all the way through and have become slightly transparent. They will also have shrunk quite a bit, which is great – an excuse to eat more of them then. Serve them warm with the caramel drizzled over the top, with cream or ice cream.
You can refrigerate them in their sauce for up to 4 days and just reheat them in a warm oven, but seriously, who keeps desserts for that long?