From America's Test Kitchen Season 5: Four-Star Desserts
Pears and blue cheese are a classic combination, but we wanted to up the flavor ante with another component—caramel. We had encountered this triple play in restaurants, where a caramel sauce is draped over seared pears and a modest amount of pungent blue cheese, served alongside, provides a nice contrast to the dessert’s sweetness. We decided to adapt this dish so it would be easy for the home cook, while still letting each ingredient shine (meaning no mushy pears and no sticky, overcooked caramel).
To streamline the recipe, we cooked the pears right in the caramel sauce, instead of separately, saving time and eliminating some dirty dishes. We brought water and sugar (the basis for caramel sauce) to a boil in a skillet and slid the pears into the hot mixture to cook in the browning caramel. We added cream to the pan to transform the sticky sugar syrup into a smooth sauce that clung lightly to the pears. After removing the pears, we were able to season the sauce left in the skillet with just the right amount of black pepper and salt. For an attractive presentation, we stood the pears upright on a plate (we had already trimmed the bottom off each pear for a flat base) and drizzled the caramel sauce around them, then added wedges of strong blue cheese—the perfect foil to the sweet caramel.
Any type of pear can be used in this recipe, as long as it is firm.