Alison Roman's hard-roasted pears recipe
Roasted fruit of any sort is generally a good idea, but some fruits turn to mush, which isn’t always what I’m after. Pears and apples, however, when roasted become simultaneously tender and hold their shape – a true miracle. They also take kindly to assertive flavours, which is why you’ll often find them cooked with alcohol such as brandy or red wine.
Here, I’ve used white wine for the acidity, and a little molasses for the gorgeous colour and ‘adult’ flavour. I like to serve these at the end of a very long, robust meal, after the plates have been cleared and it’s not clear if there’s even room for dessert at all. And, if there is, maybe it’s just a modest bowl of good ice cream (vanilla, pistachio, caramel) next to some hard-roasted pears, with some excellent Concord grapes for snacking on in between sips of very adult-tasting amaro.
Or, if your idea of dessert means nice cheeses, then these pears would be right at home with a soft-ripened cow’s milk cheese, or deeply veiny blue cheese. I never peel my pears and I don’t really mind the core, especially if the pears are small. But feel free to peel if you must. If you’re looking for a good way to remove the core and don’t own a melon baller, try using a 1-teaspoon measuring spoon to scoop it out.
The pears can be roasted a few hours before you want to serve them. Leftovers can be stored in the fridge, but they’re at their best the evening they’re made.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour 10 minutes
900g (2lb) pears or apples, halved lengthways, peeled and/or cored if you like
355g (1½ cups) white wine
110g (½ cup) granulated sugar
60g (¼ cup) molasses, or 50g (¼ cup) light brown sugar
30g unsalted butter (optional), cut into small pieces
vanilla seeds, from a scraped vanilla bean
fresh ginger slices
fresh herbs, such as thyme, rosemary or lemon verbena
citrus zest spices, such as star anise or cinnamon sticks
1. Preheat the oven to 220C (425F)/200C fan/gas mark 7. Place the pears or apples, cut side down, in a shallow baking dish (a shallow ovenproof pan would also work, but avoid using cast-iron). Cover with the wine, sugar, molasses and butter, if using. Add any aromatics you are loving at the moment.
2. Roast until the wine is reduced almost completely, and the pears are impossibly tender, about 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes (depending on the variety of pear).
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Recipe from Sweet Enough by Alison Roman (Hardie Grant Books, £28), published on April 5. Order your copy at books.telegraph.co.uk