These baked pears are an elegant dessert, rich with aromas of vanilla,honey, and spice. Baked pears are a true classic – a light dessert that can be enjoyed any day of the week, yet sophisticated enough for your fancier dinners. Serve them plain or topped with nuts, vanilla whipped cream, sweetened mascarpone, or even a tiny scoop of ice cream. Baked pears are versatile enough that they could even be served as a side to a main meal – no really, picture them as a side to roasted pork, chicken or Cornish hens. You can even top them with a savory sprinkle of crumbled blue cheese or gorgonzola – a classic pairing with pear (check out our Perfectly Peared Gorgonzola Quesadillas in our original Cooking with All Things Trader Joe’s cookbook, page 23).
Here, however, they’re intended to be a simple dessert. It’s traditional to bake pears in Brandy, but in this recipe I decided to use Drambuie, a scotch whisky** liqueur from the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Are you familiar with Drambuie? (If you’ve ever had a Rusty Nail cocktail, you’ve had Drambuie) Drambuie was one of the first drinks I ever had – my dad introduced me to it a gazillion years ago, simply served over ice. Drambuie is sweet, infused with spices, herbs, and heather honey; it brings a fantastic layer of flavor to baked pears. If you don’t have Drambuie, substitute brandy for the classic version of this dessert.
Butter, vanilla, and honey round out the sauce used to bake and flavor the pears. The sauce is brushed onto and poured over the pears, and after baking, the sauce is reduced just a bit to thicken it into a delicious syrup. Here’s a tip for when you’re brushing on sauces or butter: use a silicone brush. I used to struggle with traditional pastry brushes and I always avoided the act of brushing in any recipe, knowing it would be a pain to clean afterward. That was until, one day many years ago, Wona bought me my first silicone brush! Unlike traditional pastry brushes, silicone brushes are very easy to clean and won’t fray or get gunky over time.
2 pears (Bosc are best for baking, but most pears in season will work)
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp Drambuie
1/4 cup Candied Pecans or Candied Walnuts (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375˚ F
2. Peel and halve pears. Use a spoon to remove cores. Arrange pear halves, cut side up, on an oven safe dish.
3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine butter, honey, vanilla, and Drambuie. When mixture is warm and butter has melted, remove from heat. Brush mixture onto all sides of each pear half, and then pour mixture onto the pears, letting excess liquid run off the sides into baking dish. Set saucepan aside for further use. Drape baking dish with foil and bake pears for 20 minutes.
4. Plate pears, leaving any liquid in baking dish. Pour liquid into the same saucepan and reduce over medium-low heat for 5 minutes until liquid is syrupy.
5. When serving, sprinkle with a few pecans and spoon syrup over each pear.
Not including the optional nuts, this dessert comes it at a slim 129 calories with nearly zero sodium.
If you like pears, try our Cinnamon-Pear Baked Brie – delicious (but not low fat like this recipe!)
**Whiskey or Whisky? Well, both spellings are correct, but it depends on what you’re drinking! If it’s from Scotland, it’s whisky. If it’s from Kentucky or Tennessee or Ireland, it’s spelled whiskey. One notable exception is George Dickel Tennessee Whisky – George Dickel refused to put the “e” in his whisky because he said it was just as good as the best scotch.