Note: Mayi Brady, in The Times Test Kitchen, gave us this recipe for our cover package on braising--it's a dessert braise. Gentler than most braises, the pears bake in butter for the first half of the cooking, then bake in cream for the second half. But the characteristic deep flavors and melting textures of a true braise still emerge.

1 1/2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed

4 firm pears, peeled, cored and halved

3/4 cup heavy whipping cream

Rub bottom of 6x9-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon butter. Sprinkle both sugars evenly over bottom of dish. Place pears, cut-side-down, in dish and dot with remaining butter.

Bake at 350 degrees 20 minutes. Pour cream into dish and tilt dish back and forth several times to mix with butter-sugar mixture. Bake another 15 minutes or until pears are tender when pierced with sharp knife. Serve warm. Makes 4 servings.

Each serving contains about: 312 calories; 62 mg sodium; 73 mg cholesterol; 22 grams fat; 32 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 2.33 grams fiber.