Every year, I look forward to this season. Fall and I are good friends. It allows me to breathe like a relatively normal person and I…well, other than gush its praises, I’m not sure what I do for it, but we’re BFF’s nonetheless. I THINK *I say this with fingers crossed and a furtive prayer that I’m not proved wrong* that Summer is finally over here in Kentucky. And that, my friends, makes me oh so happy. We live on ten acres of land and my asthma makes outdoor time difficult for me in the Summer. So, I stay inside and look longingly at our woods and imagine myself sitting in the front yard, under our at least one hundred year old maple tree with a book. Now, I can go outside and see what my Fig tree is doing, see if the pecan tree has grown at all and just go into the woods and breathe deep. There is nothing like the scents in the woods during Autumn.
I also love the foods of Autumn, in case you’ve missed that in the last five and a half years 😛 One that I feel doesn’t get enough Autumn love is pears. They are wonderful most of the year, but right now, they lean more towards fantastic. So when I saw the base for this recipe in a C.I. cookbook, I had to make it. BUT… and here is where it is no surprise because I have said these words about 900 times in the last years, I had to change it up. I wanted it to have more of a Fall-ish (yes, that is now a word. I said so.) flavor. Plus, I like a bit of butter in my caramel which theirs didn’t have. So, what did I do? Besides adding butter, I added some warm Autumn spices and some orange zest to the caramel. Those changes, plus some vanilla extract, took this from good but ordinary to outstanding. The tender pears covered in caramel, that is itself sweet, creamy and with the subtle flavors of Fall, was wonderful. I added a scoop of vanilla ice cream to the it, because ice cream, and it took this completely over the top.
Don’t be nervous over the idea of caramel sauce. This one is quite easy and the whole dish takes just one pan.
You know the drill… get to cooking! <3
Skillet Pears With An Autumn Spiced Caramel Sauce
- 3 ripe (but not mushy) pears. I used Barlett because it’s a wonderful all around pear.
- 1/3 cup water
- 2/3 cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons orange zest (you could sub about 1/2 teaspoon orange extract, in which case add it in at the same time you add the vanilla)
- Slice and core the three pears and set aside. In a large skillet (I used my cast iron. Just cooking in it feels rustic and Autumnish), pour the water. Add the sugar to the middle of the pan. Gently stir to make sure all of the sugar is wet, then turn the heat to medium high. Add in the vanilla extract, spices and salt and give it another gentle stir.
- Bring to a boil over medium high heat, then lower the heat to medium and cook until all the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is bubbling.
- Add the pears, cut side down, to the bubbling sugar (be careful not to splatter on yourself!) and cook until the pears are fork tender, about 15 minutes.
- While it cooks, add the butter and orange zest (if using instead of orange extract) to the heavy cream and microwave for about 90 seconds or just until barely hot to the touch.
- When the pears are tender, slowly pour the cream around the pears. Give the pan a gentle shake to help mix it and continue to cook until the sauce is a light golden brown color, about five minutes.
- Then, you can either serve the pears straight from the pan (which is what I did. I just moved some to a smaller pan for the photo, lol) or transfer them to individual plates and serve with sauce puddled around them. No matter how you serve them, sprinkle with a touch of cinnamon and grate some extra orange zest over the top.
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