Before I made these pears, I had never roasted fruit before. Sure, I’ve baked it in pies and crumbles, but I don’t think that counts. Last week we were getting ready to leave on our trip and I had a few unripe pears in the fridge that I wasn’t sure what to do with. For some reason I decided to roast them up. Now that I’ve done it, it feels a bit like back when I discovered how good roasted vegetables are. It is definitely going to become part of my dessert repertoire. Roasted fruit feels especially perfect for fall, when apples and pears are in season. I think these would be really good as a Thanksgiving alternative to pie, especially since you could substitute the regular flour for gluten-free flour if you are avoiding gluten. Add a scoop of ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream, and you’ve got an extra-special holiday dessert.
Vanilla Baked Pears with Streusel Filling
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste, or 1/2 vanilla bean
2 slightly-under-ripe, medium pears, peeled if desired, halved though the stem and cored (I used Bartletts but supposedly any variety will work )
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp rolled oats
1 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tsp honey
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 Tbsp chopped pecans, toasted
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Using a melon baller or spoon, scoop out core from each pear half.
Place the sugar in a small bowl. Add the vanilla bean paste and stir to combine. (If you’re using a vanilla bean, split the vanilla bean lengthwise in half and scrape out the seeds, then stir the seeds into the sugar.)
Arrange the pears in an 8-inch square baking dish, cut-side up. Drizzle the lemon juice evenly over the fruit, then sprinkle with the sugar. Pour the water into the dish. Overturn each pear so it’s face-down, and place a cube of butter beneath each pear’s scooped out core.
Cover dish with foil. Roast the pears 30 minutes, brushing them occasionally with the pan juices. While they’re roasting prepare the streusel topping.
To prepare streusel, combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through salt) in a bowl. Stir with a fork until mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in pecans.
After the pears have roasted for 30 minutes remove them from the oven. Turn the pears over and baste, then spoon strusel evenly into the pear halves. Continue roasting until tender and caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes longer (if the pears are small, test for doneness after 35 or 40 minutes total of cooking; a fork or knife poked into the thickest part of one should meet with no resistance). Uncover and bake an additional 5 minutes.
Serve warm, spooned with the caramelized pear drippings from the pan.