December 28, 2009

Pears in Warm Honey and Pine Nut Caramel with Soft Sweet Cheese

I'm already fantasizing about New Years Eve night. 

Whether we have company or not, I'm planning a gorgeous dinner and a beautiful dessert with lot's of lovely sparkling wine to follow it.  In my ideal plan, the whole house is lit only with the lights from the Christmas tree and white votive candles strategically placed all over the house and  I'd be suave, wearing a glamorous lipstick-red satin cocktail dress and cool black suede pumps.  (truth be told, most likely I'll be cooking to the last minute and wearing a track suit.  Well, maybe not a track suit)
I'm not exactly sure what it is, but there is something incredibly romantic about New Years Eve.  Maybe it's the fact that the night almost always includes delicious food, generous amounts of sparkling wine, candlelight and midnight kisses.  
It's sort of a farewell to the Holidays and a definite look backwards at the year.  For me it's about reflection and celebration.

I've found the perfect dessert.  It's romantic, delicious, not too heavy or sweet and most importantly, super easy. A snap to make.
I'll probably even get it right after a glass of wine or two Thursday night. 

1/2 stick of unsalted butter
3 firm but ripe Bosc pears or other pears, halved lengthwise and cored
3 1/2 tablespoons mild honey (such as orange blossom or blackberry)
4 ounces artisanal cheese sliced or crumbled at room temperature
*(Humboldt Fog is to die for! It tastes like butter & cream with a subtle tangy flavor.  You can find it at Whole Foods, it looks like a pretty little snow white spongy-cake) 
3 tablespoons pine nuts
Pinch of flaked sea salt

Melt unsalted butter in a skillet  or dutch oven over medium-high heat until just beginning to brown. Toss in the prepared pear halves, cut side down. Drizzle honey over pears and swirl the pan slightly to blend butter with the honey. Reduce heat to medium.  Cover and cook until pears are tender when pierced with a fork, swirling skillet occasionally and adding a few tablespoons water to skillet if caramel sauce turns deep amber before pears are tender. (about 12 minutes)

Transfer honey gilded pears to a serving platter and top them with the cheese. Return skillet with caramel sauce to medium-high heat, then add the pine nuts to skillet and sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Cook until sauce in skillet is brown and bubbling, about 2 more minutes. Spoon sauce over pears and serve with a crisp white wine.

I highly recommend a little Diana Krall to go with this recipe.  Prepare to make people swoon.

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