Vanilla Poached Pears with Simple Salted Butter Caramel Sauce
The title of this snippet will have no doubt grabbed your attention and you are already close to drooling, I'm sure. For if you are anything like me, you love fruit-based desserts and ADORE caramel. Yes?
I first learned about caramel in a 1970s high school home economics class, when Miss Ovens (truly!) taught me and a handful of other budding young food enthusiasts the joys of making Russian Caramels. That was to be one of the more memorable highlights of those cooking classes, and far tastier than Scotch Eggs and Tuna Mornay!
Salted butter caramel seems to be the flavour of the year, or perhaps decade. There are numerous recipes for it on the internet; you can indulge in exquisite (and pricey) Le Petit Saunier salted caramels at The Essential Ingredient; and Maggie Beer has recently released a chocolate and salted butter caramel ice cream. David Lebovitz imparts his expert advice on making the perfect caramel and shares his recipe for his much blogged salted butter caramel ice cream.
Fellow food blogger, Manuela, also recently published an inspiring version of Blue Persian salt caramel sauce served with pear ice cream. I tried Manuela's recipe and was blown away by the amazing combination of flavours, although I have to admit I used Maldon sea salt, as I didn't have any Blue Persian salt at hand.
This snippet is my celebration of Autumn pears combined with vanilla and caramel, in a simple salted butter caramel sauce that can be very quickly and easily prepared. I have been making this caramel sauce for years and it's a favourite at our place. It doesn't quite have the depth of flavour of the David Lebovitz version, but in terms of sheer deliciousness, it comes close. Do please try it and let me know what you think.
VANILLA POACHED PEARS WITH (SIMPLE) SALTED BUTTER CARAMEL SAUCE
2 Winter Nelis, Packham, Williams or Beurre Bosc pears
1 vanilla pod
a little lemon zest
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
1 cup water
125g good quality butter
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
a pinch of sea salt
Peel the pears and remove the core at the base with a melon baller, taking care to leave the stems intact. Place the pears onto a plate and sprinkle with a few drops of lemon juice to prevent them from browning.
Combine the sugar, water, lemon zest and scraped vanilla bean in a deep saucepan and stir over a medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Lower the heat (or use a heat diffuser), add the pears and poach gently for up to an hour, basting the pears gently every so often. The idea is to very gently poach the fruit in the syrup, and not allow it to boil. The pears will remain intact and the flesh will be perfectly delicious. Allow to cool, refrigerate overnight if you wish. Serves 2, but simply add more pears for more serves.
To make the caramel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the sugar. Stir over a low heat without boiling until the sugar dissolves. Bring the sauce to the boil, then simmer, uncovered and without stirring, for two to three minutes. Remove the pan from the stove and wait for the bubbles to die down before stirring in the cream and sea salt. This amount makes about 11/2 cups of caramel sauce. The sauce keeps well in the refrigerator for two or three days. Serve the sauce over the vanilla poached pears, gently reheated, or serve chilled.
The process in pictures...
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.