Monday, November 5, 2007

Pears Perhaps-Pepin

Years ago, in a Houston cooking class taught by an elegant woman named Neva Paul, I learned a delicious and simple recipe for caramel pears. So simple that I soon stopped referring to the printed recipe and just tossed the ingredients together from memory: peel, halve and core firm pears; place them cut side down in a buttered baking dish; sprinkle generously with sugar and dot liberally with butter; bake on the bottom shelf of a fairly hot oven until the pears begin to get tender and the juices have mingled to form a light caramel; pour a little heavy cream into the baking dish and let it all cook until the pears are fully tender; spoon pears and caramel-like pan juices into serving dishes and serve with whipped cream and toasted almonds.

Then, in a spate of sorting old recipes, I found the one for these pears. And at the bottom of the ingredients list were three puzzling items. What was I supposed to have done with the second portion of sugar, some water and a pinch of cream of tartar? And did the recipe title -- Poires Pepin -- mean it had originated with The Sublime Jacques? I suspect so, as I found a recipe for Pears in Caramel in La Methode which required making a separate caramel and simmering pears therein.
Clearly I was supposed to make a caramel with those last three ingredients and then add it to the partially-baked pears. If I ever included that step, doing so is lost in the mists of memory. It probably produces a transcendent dessert, but one that no longer fits my definition of Super Easy.

So, I'll continue making my mis-remembered recipe, unless Jacques shows up in my kitchen some afternoon. If he does, I'll make the Official Version -- as long as he's willing to help by making the caramel.


Tartelette said...

It looks great withut the last elements so don't change a thing!

Betty C. said...

Those simple, by memory recipes are the best in my opinion -- especially during the work week! I rarely open a cookbook now except on weekends.

Debbie Ann said...

Here I am in Bangalore with a toaster oven and almost nothing to work with, but I am trying this recipe right now. thank you!