Impress holiday guests with a dessert starring roasted pears and candied pecans

·4 min read
Roasted Pears with Candied Pecans
Roasted Pears with Candied Pecans

Roasted Pears with Candied Pecans and Lemon Cream

Ancient Greek author Homer, described pears as “gifts from the gods,” and that was likely because of their sweet juiciness.

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Today's recipe takes this gift and transforms it into a unique dessert that's sure to illicit oohs and aahs from your holiday guests. The fact that it's more healthful that most desserts is just a bonus.

Pears are a low-calorie, fat-free and sodium-free treat all on their own. They're also a good source of potassium and copper.

In fact, the Bosc pear used in today’s recipe delivers 16% of your daily recommended amount of copper, which helps your body make energy, connective tissues and blood vessels. Copper also helps maintain the nervous and immune systems, activates genes and aids brain development.

There are many types of pears, but we used the Bosc pear for this recipe because of its long, tapered neck and its ability to hold its shape while cooking.

Here's how the magic of this simple dessert works: The heat of the oven softens the pears and brings out their natural sweetness. From there, they need just a few accompaniments to make them truly shine.

First, a basting or poaching liquid maintains their moisture while cooking and infuses the fruit with flavor. We went with a syrup made from apple juice, maple syrup, brown sugar, butter and warm spices like cinnamon and clove.

Next, a touch of something creamy always goes well with cooked fruit. A simple lemon cream made from yogurt and cream cheese does the trick while also adding a subtle citrus zing.

Finally, a nutty, crunchy element like a sprinkle of candied pecans takes the dessert to another level with texture and even more flavor.

Bethany Thayer is a registered dietitian nutritionist with Henry Ford Health System. For more recipes and health information, visit henryford.com/blog and for questions about today’s recipe email HenryFordLiveWell@hfhs.org.

Roasted Pears with Lemon Cream and Candied Pecans

Makes: 8 servings / Prep time: 40 minutes / Total time: 2 hours (not all active time)

Lemon Cream

4 ounces low-fat cream cheese, room temperature

½ cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt

Juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon lemon zest

3 tablespoons powdered sugar

Candied Pecans

Vegetable oil cooking spray

5 teaspoons sugar

5 teaspoons water

1 teaspoon corn syrup

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

⅛ teaspoon salt

½ cup roughly chopped pecans

Roasted Pears and Sauce

Juice of ½ of a lemon

8 medium Bosc pears

¾ cup apple juice

⅓ cup maple syrup

⅓ cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons butter

¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 whole cloves

¼ teaspoon salt

In a medium-sized bowl, combine cream cheese, Greek yogurt, lemon juice, lemon zest and powdered sugar. Blend thoroughly with a hand mixer. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

Spray a sheet of aluminum foil and 2 spoons with vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine sugar, water, corn syrup, cinnamon and salt; stir until all ingredients are incorporated.

Add pecans to a small sauté pan. Cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant and slightly toasted. Add the cinnamon-sugar mixture and stir with a heat-resistant spatula to coat the nuts. Stir continuously for another 5-10 minutes or until pecans are deep golden brown and shiny. Turn out onto prepared foil. With the two oiled spoons, spread nuts apart to cool.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Squeeze lemon into a large bowl half full of cool water. Peel pears, leaving stems intact. Cut a thin slice off the bottoms of pears.

Submerge pears upright in water as you work. In a saucepan, combine apple juice, maple syrup, brown sugar, butter, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Cook over medium-high heat and stir until butter melts and sugar dissolves, about 5 minutes. Pat pears dry and arrange upright in a 3-quart baking dish. Pour syrup over pears. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes or until they're tender and beginning to brown; baste with syrup occasionally.

To serve, arrange pears on dessert plates or a platter. Drizzle with remaining syrup. Place a tablespoon of lemon cream next to the pear and sprinkle pear and lemon cream with a tablespoon candied pecans.

From Henry Ford LiveWell.

331 calories (27% from fat), 10 grams fat (3.5 grams sat. fat, 0 grams trans fat), 58 grams carbohydrates, 4 grams protein, 198 mg sodium, 16 mg cholesterol, 66 mg calcium, 1 gram fiber. Food exchanges: 2 fruit, 2 starch, 2 fat.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Roasted pears with candied pecans are an elegant holiday dessert