2 hours, 20 minutes
From "The Sweet Life: Desserts From Chanterelle" by Kate Zuckerman. This pear dish requires the use of a hot oven for about 2 hours; you can roast these pears while you plan to be in the kitchen working on another dish. You will need a 12-by-8-inch metal roasting pan. The pears are just as beautiful if you do not core them after roasting.
10 medium (about 5 pounds) ripe pears (Anjou, Comice, Bartlett or Bosc)
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup honey
1. Heat the oven
to 425 degrees. Set the rack on the top shelf of the oven. Peel the lemon's zest into 4 long strips. Peel the pears and leave the stems on if they have not already fallen off. Cut a slice 1 inch in diameter and one-third-inch thick off the bottom of each pear so it will stand up in the roasting pan. Place the pears in the roasting pan and add the lemon zest, butter, sugar, honey and 2 1/2 cups water. You do not need to mix the ingredients ahead of time because they will all melt together into a syrup in the oven.
2. Place the roasting pan
on a cookie tray just in case the juices boil over. Bake until all the sugar and honey have dissolved and the tops of the pears are beginning to brown, about 30 minutes.
3. Remove the pan
from the oven. Using a rubber spatula, push the pears over so they are lying on their sides. Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes. Rotate the pears to the opposite side and bake another 20 minutes. The pears will continue to take on color. Do not be alarmed if the tops of the pears become a very dark brown. You want them to caramelize.
4. The pears are poached
when a knife inserted into the center slides in easily and the pear is somewhat soft to the touch. If the pears seem hard and uncooked, bake them lying down for up to 20 minutes longer.
5. Once the pears
are poached, stand them back up and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and baste the pears with the caramelized juices (which will continue to reduce into a syrup). Return the pears to the oven and repeat this process three more times for a total of 45 more minutes. The pears are done when the tops are almost black and the flesh is a shiny, deep caramel color. You might need to roast the pears for another 10 to 20 minutes to get this beautiful caramel shine. Remove the pears from the oven and baste one last time. The basting liquid should by now have become a syrupy caramel.
6. Carefully remove the pears
from the roasting pan and place them on a tray or plate to cool. Save the caramel sauce, discarding the lemon zest. Once the pears have cooled, remove the core from the bottom with a small melon baller or paring knife. You need to carve out a cone shape from the bottom to remove the pear's seeds. To serve, reheat the pears in the oven.
7. Place each pear
on a plate with a dollop of whipped cream or crème fraîche and a drizzle of the pear caramel sauce.