Caramelized Pears with Vanilla Syrup

On morning walks around my neighborhood it becomes very clear that people are eager for Halloween and the rest of the end-of-the-year holidays. The fake blood, beware vampire signs, and skulls have been outside front doors since mid-September! Me? You’ll see no cobwebs on my front door so soon.

But what about fall? We had a few mornings last week with the slightest chill in the air. I had goosebumps on my legs one early morning and I wished I’d worn pants, but the chill didn’t last. The familiar humid Florida nights are back. But there was one afternoon, rainy and cool, when I cut up some pears and mixed cinnamon with freshly grated nutmeg. Man, that smell. That could get me into fall, to pretend it’s here when it’s really not. Yet. I hope!

This recipe works with any variety of pear, though Bon Appétit suggested Bosc pears. I couldn’t resist these red pears. Vanilla bean is scraped into sugar before it’s reduced to a syrup. A pinch of ground cinnamon and freshly grated nutmeg perfume the sugar that coats the cut side of the pears. The butter I caramelized the pears in for a few minutes turned into browned butter, which I hadn’t planned on but made my kitchen smell even better. Not that those fall spices needed any help.

caramelized pears with vanilla bean syrup

This elegant dessert says fall to me. The pears are delicate, and something about all those flecks of vanilla bean feels luxurious. I topped off the pears with vanilla bean Greek yogurt, but you could also try whipped cream or ice cream.

2 tablespoons sugar, plus 2 teaspoons
1/2 vanilla bean
a pinch of cinnamon
a pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 (not too ripe) pears, halved (and cored)
Greek yogurt (or whipped cream? ice cream?)
pomegranate seeds

Scrape vanilla beans out of their pod with the tip of a sharp knife, and mix beans into a small bowl with 2 tablespoons of sugar. Add 1/4 cup of water and stir until sugar dissolves. Combine remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in another small bowl.

Melt butter over medium heat in a medium skillet. Sprinkle cinnamon-nutmeg sugar over the cut sides of the pears. Carefully place pears cut side down in the skillet until browned, 5 to 8 minutes. Carefully turn pears over (the skin is delicate) and add vanilla bean sugar water to the skillet. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer pears until they are just tender, about 5 minutes.

Place the pears cut side up on plates. Let the liquid in the skillet reduce until it thickens to a syrup, 1 to 2 minutes. Finish pears with a spoonful of yogurt, a drizzle of the vanilla bean syrup, and pomegranate seeds.

Serves 4. Adapted from Bon Appétit

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