December 29, 2009

Boozy Pears

Like you need more things to indulge on. But these are way yummy.

Over the past few weeks I've seen a recipe for Vanilla Roasted Pears floating around the blogosphere. They popped up in at least three of the blogs I read so who knows how many people out there are drooling over them. And for good reason. Just the idea makes my mouth water. But alas, mid snow storm and needing something to take to a party one evening, I realized that, while i had the pears, I had no vanilla beans. At least no whole, unused vanilla beans. What I did have was an old bottle with six or so de-seeded vanilla pods bobbing around in a few cups of rum.

This all started when Will and I were pooooooor and needed Christmas gifts. And because even when your poooooor just out of college students you still somehow manage to have enough money to afford booze and beer, we decided to make our own vanilla rum and a triple sec-ish drink called "44". The "44" was a little complicated involving 44 cloves poked into an orange and dunked in a bottle of vodka with 44 sugar cubes for 44 days. We only just made it in time to set for the month and a half it needed before bottling it up for our friends.

The vanilla rum was much easier. Throw a vanilla bean - split down the middle - and a handful of brown sugar into a bottle of rum and give it a shake and a few days to ripen. After that Christmas it occurred to me that the same thing could probably be done with empty pods, the way you make vanilla sugar. And so started the empty pod in a rum bottle tradition. Now I'm not going to lie. I have no idea how long some of those pods have been in there. Every time I use a vanilla bean for something, and sadly, that's not that often, I toss in the pod, top up the bottle, shake it up and back in the cupboard it goes. We mix it with drinks and use it in place of vanilla in recipes and generally enjoy it when we can.

For this dish I peeled and cored (a teaspoon works great to get that neat little circle in the core - and don't forget to cut out the straight part of the core that leads to the stem) four Bartlet pears and put them cut side up in a casserole dish. In addition to the half cup of rum, I mixed in 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 2 T lemon juice, a shake of cinnamon and half a stick of melted butter. The whole thing was drizzled over the pears and baked at 375 for about 50 minutes, turning the pears over half way though.

Although these would be great over almost everything from oatmeal to ice cream, we ate them sliced on crackers over some kind of gooey cheese and it was lovely. The best part is that, while they are certainly a sweet, they are not overpowering. In fact, they are almost light, which makes a nice change from all the dense and sticky sweet (but no less wonderful) treats that abound during the holidays. Now I just have to decide, would it be so wrong to make them for breakfast this week? Nah, I didn't think so either.