Thursday, January 7, 2010

Roasted Pears in Pizzelle Cups

When I wrote about our Christmas dinner and the invented dessert I threw together to go along with it, I got two (TWO!) requests for more details on the dessert, so here you go.

It started with the pizzelles. Pizzelles have been a Christmas staple in my family for as long as I can remember. Stacks and stacks of them, always anise flavored. And fear not licorice-haters, most people still like the anise pizzelles even if they (for some crazy reason I'll never understand) are not fans of black licorice, black jelly beans, sambuca, etc. Mmmmm.... black sambuca.

While I was making the pizzelles (in the pizzelle maker, not a waffle iron as many people think) I decided to make a few of them into cups. I've done it before and just served ice cream in them and figured it would be a nice touch to our Christmas dinner. I did this by using two, slightly flared, small glass ramekins. The flared part is the key because you have to be able to stack the two dishes. Turn them both over, place a pizzelle IMMEDIATELY onto one ramekin and push the second one on top of it to form the bowl. Let the upside down stacked bowls, with the pizzelle between them, sit for about 30 seconds, then remove. (Pizzelle recipe below)

For the filling, I saw a dish in Cooking Lite that had roasted pears with caramel sauce and a few days later I saw a dish on The Food Network that had cranberries, so I just combined the idea and went from there.

* Cut pears (1 pear for every 2 people) into large, bite-sized, pieces
I used Bosc pears because I know NOTHING about pears and had no idea which of the 5 varieties to buy, so I just guessed. If you're more pear saavy, get whatever variety you think would work best.

* Rinse cranberries

* Add pears & cranberries to baking dish, top with a few tablespoons of brown sugar, & cover with foil.

* Bake at 425 degrees for about 35 minutes until pears are very soft

* Spoon fruit mixture into dessert cups, top with homemade whipped cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and a drizzle of warm caramel.

As for the caramel I just bought the caramel topping used for ice cream and heated it in the microwave. There are several things that I consider not worth making from scratch and that's definitely one of them.

For the homemade whipped cream, I learned from my years in restaurants that homemade whipped cream is only supposed to be VERY lightly sweetened. The point of the topping is not to add sweetness to an already sweet dessert, but to actually cut the sweetness of the dessert and add a nice smoothness and mouth feel.

I really had no idea if all the elements would work together, but they did. All of the flavors were pretty delicate and it ended up being a dessert that was easy to make, nice to look at, and a light end to a big meal.

Pizzelle Recipe

When I opened my pizzelle maker I noticed that it came with a few different recipes. However, none of them looked even close to the one my family has been using for years so I put in a phone call to Uncle Tony (the go-to Italian uncle for all things food related) and made them using that recipe. I have no idea where the recipe came from, but I'm sure it's written in cursive pencil on a mangled index card somewhere.

12 eggs
3 C flour
1 1/2 C sugar
1 C butter
4t baking powder
3T anise extract (or 2T anise extract & 2T anise oil)

Melt butter and cool
Beat eggs with whisk
Using hand beaters, add sugar
Add flavor & beat again
Add dry ingredients

Spoon batter onto pizzelle maker. When steam stops coming out of iron, pizzelles are probably done. It's a trial and error process for how much batter and how much time - every machine is different.

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