Prep 45 mins
Cook 45 mins
From the NY Times 10/17/07.
- 1⁄4 cup honey (chestnut or other intense kind)
- 3 large bosc pears, peeled, quartered lengthwise and cored
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme (optional)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 lemon, zest of, finely grated
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
- 1⁄2 cup unsalted butter, plus
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1⁄4 cup sliced almonds
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- In a 9-inch ovenproof skillet (not nonstick), simmer honey until it begins to caramelize and darken in colour, do not let honey burn; if it starts to smell burned, turn off heat.
- Arrange pears, close together and cut-side down, in a circular pattern in skillet, stem ends pointing toward center. Simmer over medium heat, turning them from one side to the other until they turn golden, about 10 minutes.
- Flip pears over their curved side and scatter with thyme sprigs if using. Transfer skillet to oven and roast, uncovered, until very tender, about 25 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together sugar and lemon zest. Whisk in eggs and vanilla, fold in flour and salt, stir in 1/2 cup of butter.
- When pears are soft, remove skillet from oven, discard thyme sprigs and brush edges of pears with the remaining 1 tbsp of butter. Pour batter over pears, spread almonds over batter and bake for about 25-30 minutes until done. Let cake cool for 30 minutes in the skillet before running an offset spatula or a thin sparing knife along edge of pan to loosen cake. Carefully invert cake into a platter. Serve warm or cooled.
This is a fabulous fall creation that's fun to make. It's homey and kind of difficult to plate, but the thyme gives it a kind of "je ne sais quoi" elegance that can lift it into the realm of dinner party. But just go ahead and make it for your family and if your pears are perfect, cut that sugar down to 2/3 cup. It's flavorful enough.
I also got this recipe out of the NY Times, and it is wonderful!! I made my first last week and I'm already being begged for another - any kind of pears work, I used Bartletts and it was great. I also had to move everything into a pie plate since I don't have an ovenproof skillet, worked out fine.