At one time, we had a recipe for Brown Butter Roasted Pears. The other day, we lucked into a couple of large pears that looked perfect to turn into such a dessert. We searched through the vast library here at Scratchin’ It Central, and it was gone! The best we can figure is that we lost it in the crash of ’15, so we searched the Internet for a suitable substitute.
And, the great thing is that we found one that sounded good. You can see the original, or you can follow ours below (it’s the same), and it’s right here.
Use nice ripe pears. We know that it’s nearly impossible to find ripe pears in the store, but, if you leave them out on the counter for a few days, they’ll ripen. Check by pressing lightly right near the stem end. When they give just slightly, they’re ripe. Only use real maple syrup. For this, and for all recipes that call for it. We know it’s expensive, but the only time you should use those chemically flavored syrups is at a large pancake breakfast for kids. If you don’t have cinnamon stick, we think a pinch of cinnamon powder will be fine. And fresh lemon juice is better than reconstituted (which tastes metallic to us), but we also know that it’s a small amount of juice, so we’ll look the other way if you don’t use fresh. To toast a small amount of nuts, simply place them in a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring or shaking often.
Procedure in detail:
Preheat oven to 375°F. You’ll need to bake these pears, as well as searing them. It seems like a lot of trouble, but you simply place the oven-proof skillet in the oven after searing. No trouble at all.
Peel and core pears. We used an ordinary vegetable peeler to peel the pears. In our case, we had a huge Comice pear, so we only needed one pear, cut into quarters. Once peeled, slice in half lengthwise and remove the core with a small spoon. Some people suggest using a melon baller, but we don’t have one, so we suggest a spoon. Once peeled, sliced in half, and cored, set the pears aside.
Brown butter. This is a great technique for adding flavor, and everyone who cooks should know how to brown butter. It’s easy, but you do need to watch while you work, or you’ll end up with burnt butter, which has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Melt two tablespoons of butter in an oven-proof skillet over medium heat, periodically swirling the pan until the butter begins to foam and the milk solids separate. Continue swirling over the heat; the butter will begin to brown and smell nutty and caramelly. At this point, the milk solids will also brown and settle to the bottom. Once nicely browned — it’ll take 5 to 7 minutes — place the pears in the pan, cut side down.
Sear pears. Let the pears sear for about 3-4 minutes. Do not move them; at most, tilt the pan slightly to keep the butter moving around the pears. Carefully flip the pears and sear the other side the same way; again, it’ll take another 3-4 minutes.
Add maple and cinnamon. We just estimated the amount of maple syrup, mainly because it’s just as easy as measuring, and the exact amount won’t matter. Whether you measure, or pour by eye, add the maple syrup and cinnamon stick.
Bake. Slide the pan into the oven and let the pears bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Basically, we’re ensuring that the pears cook all the way through, so they’ll be meltingly tender when you eat them. If you wish, you can check the pears by sliding a thin skewer into the center. If it slides in very easily, they’re done.
Plate. Remove the pan from the oven (use a hot pad, and wrap it around the handle, as it’s easy to forget that it’s hot), and carefully remove the pears using a slotted spoon. Place pears on serving plates. You need to be very careful as the pears are very soft and liable to fall apart. Remove the cinnamon stick and discard.
Make sauce. Return the pan to medium heat, and add the remaining butter and salt. Cook the sauce, stirring continuously, until thick and syrupy, about 4 minutes. Add the lemon juice and stir in quickly. The acid in the juice forms a nice contrast to the sweetness of the maple, so you really don’t want to skip it.
Serve. Pour the syrup over the pears, sprinkle with the toasted walnut pieces, and serve immediately.
Oh, man, were these delicious. The pears turn out creamy, almost as if semi-melted, similar to soft-serve ice cream. The maple glaze adds more sweetness, but the acid of the lemon prevents it from being cloyingly sweet. If only we had some ice cream to serve alongside. The only change we’d make in the future is to add just a bit more kosher salt. But, for such a fast and easy dessert, an absolute, solid five stars.