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Vanilla-maple roasted pears

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Roasted-pears-trioVanilla-maple roasted pears

Makes 8 pear halves; moderate dessert for 8 or more substantial for 4

These silky, caramelized roasted pears are absolutely perfect with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, créme fraîche, custard, or other similar pairings. They’re also fantastic on yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast in the morning and seem like they’d be absolutely perfect on gingerbread with a bit of whipped cream.

  • 1 1/2 lbs. pears – about 4 medium pears (any pear type will do – if you buy at a farmers’ market, ask the vendor which are the best baking variety they have)
  • 1 vanilla bean OR 1 Tbsp. vanilla bean paste
  • Scant 1/2 cup maple syrup (preferably grade B)
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, cut into 8 pieces

Heat oven to 375F.

– Prepare the pears Peel the pears, if you want. Split them in half, cut off any bottom stem, and scoop out the seeds with a thin spoon or melon baller. You can also cut out the thin core, if you want, but you don’t have to. I did here because I was feeling particularly fancy, which also led me to leave the stem on the halves that had them (very pretty but not at all necessary). Place the pears cut side up in a baking dish that can fit them all in one layer – they can be fairly crowded, but don’t use a pan that gives them a lot of space, since it will make the sauce very shallow.

Prepare sauce With a small, sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the inner seeds into a small bowl or liquid measuring cup (if using the paste, add that instead). Nestle the scraped out vanilla bean into the baking dish among the pear halves. Add the maple syrup, lemon juice, and water, and whisk or mix together as much as you can. Pour over the pears in the baking dish.

– Add butter and bake Place a piece of butter in the hollow of each pear half. Roast the pears for 50-75 minutes or until the pears are completely tender, taking the pan out after 30 minutes to turn the halves over and brush or spoon some of the juices in the pan onto the pears. After that, baste the pears with the juices again every 15 minutes (no need to turn them again). Test the pears with a small, thin knife or another implement, removing them from the oven only when the flesh is completely tender.

Storage/making ahead: These are best while still warm from the oven, but are perfectly good cold or at room temperature and can be reheated in a small pan over medium heat. They can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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