One of the signature foods of autumn is caramel apples but why not caramel pears? That crisp, tart fruit is perfect with a spoonful of salted caramel so it makes sense to just dip them in. And if you're looking for a beautiful presentation, nothing quite beats the glory of perfectly shaped pears. Leave those stems on for dipping too and you can avoid having to insert a stick.
Just like firm, tart Granny Smith apples are ideal for using in caramel apple recipes, Bosc or other firm pear varieties are best for this.
As for the caramel sauce itself, if your only experience is with the jarred ice cream toppings from the store or your local ice cream parlor, you're missing a treat. Those sauces are sweet but not very interesting. But, by making your own, you create an intense depth of flavor to the cooked sugar that you won't be able to find in a jar. Adding a generous pinch of sea salt helps balance the flavor and tone down the harsh sweetness. And you can also further customize it with the addition of spices and herbs for unique flavor combinations. Cinnamon would be a natural if you're dipping apples, but the intensely aromatic fragrance of cardamom takes it to a higher level.
A common spice in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking, green cardamom has a citrusy, spicy, floral flavor that's used in both sweet and savory recipes. It makes these special caramel pears extra special.
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cups heavy cream, at room temperature or slightly warmed up
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- Sea salt to taste
- 4 pears, washed and cored
- Add the cup of sugar to a heavy bottom pot and heat on low until it melts and starts to lightly brown. Try to resist stirring it, as this will make it more likely to form lumps. Do not leave it unattended because it can burn quickly.
- Once the sugar is bubbling and a very light golden brown, pour in the heavy cream. Note that the mixture will bubble up. Begin stirring it until the cream is fully incorporated and then stir in the butter. You may find that the mixture has hard lumps. Just continue stirring, on very low heat, until they melt and you have a smooth sauce.
- Stir in the cardamom and season with sea salt to taste.
- Wash and dry the pears. Use a corer to remove the seeds from the bottom of the pear. Using the stem, dip the pear into the warm caramel sauce until fully coated. Place on a rack to catch the drips and allow to harden. If you have any leftover caramel sauce, store it in a lidded jar in the refrigerator for up to a week.