Dessert recipes don't have to be complicated and time consuming to be spectacular. The recipe here is a case in point and one that can be prepared on the spur of the moment for a dinner in the middle of the week.
Buy a can of roasted caramelized pecans or toast some almonds in the oven to sprinkle on top. The pears can bake while you are getting the rest of the dinner together. Don't be tempted to add anything other than a drizzle of heavy cream. It's really all you need.
4 firm-ripe pears (any variety)
1 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
2 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. honey
1/2 cup sweet dessert wine, such as a late-harvest Muscat or a Viognier Doux
Roasted Caramelized Pecans (crushed) or slivered almonds (optional)
1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature, for serving
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375°F. Peel, halve, and core the pears.
Smear the butter over the bottom of a 9x13-inch baking dish or small roasting pan. Set the pear halves cut side down in the dish.
Drizzle 1 tsp. of honey over each pear half. Pour in the sweet wine. Roast for 40 min.
Remove the dish from the oven and, using pot holders, tilt the dish so the juices pool in one corner. With a spoon, baste each pear with some of the juices.
Continue to roast until the juices cook down to a glazy consistency and the pears are very tender and take on a light toasted color, another 15 to 20 min.
Lift up the cut side of a pear; it should look nicely caramelized. Turn off the oven and leave the pears in the oven to keep warm until serving time (the liquid will continue to thicken and the pears will brown a bit more).
If the juices have completely evaporated at serving time, add a Tbs. or two of hot water to the pan and swirl to recreate a syrupy glaze. Drizzle the glaze over each pear. Add the pecans or almonds if you wish.
Serve warm and pass a pitcher of heavy cream to pour over. Leftovers are good eaten at room temperature or warmed gently.
Adapted From Fine Cooking
January 1, 2006