Summer’s over and so is the photography portion of the cookbook project I spent my weekends on. I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate 1) completing the work, 2) the unofficial start of fall and 3) football season than with a big pot of beef & lamb chili and an over-the-top dessert. It’s a retread of the Vanilla Roasted Pears with Amaretto Mascarpone I made earlier in the year, but made this time with the courage of my convictions. And let me tell you, espresso cream is in no way a bad (or overpowering) thing.
I had no real plans to go with such a fall feast, but the pears at the farmers’ market called to me Saturday.
I was powerless against them.
Wicked, wicked pears.
Now please pardon me while I shovel more of this into my piehole.
For the pears
4 pears, any type (8 pears, if you use the seckel variety)
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
For the mascarpone cream
1 cup whipping cream
1 vanilla bean
1 cup mascarpone
1/4 – 1/3 cup sugar
2-3 tablespoons espresso, chilled
toasted ground almonds
Make the pears
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Peel pears if you like (not really necessary if you buy organic), halve them lengthwise and core. Place cut side up in a roasting pan and sprinkle with lemon juice. Sprinkle sugar evenly over pear halves and dot with butter. Pour water into the roasting pan and bake pears for 30 minutes, basting with pan juices a few times. Flip pears over and bake an additional 30 minutes, basting with pan juices a few times. Pears are ready when a knife slips easily into the thickest part. (Seckel pears may take less time. Start checking for done-ness around the 40-minute mark.) Allow pears to cool to room temperature.
Make the mascarpone cream
Pour whipping cream into a small bowl. Slice vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape seeds into the cream, stirring to evenly distribute. Add bean to cream. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour, along with the bowl and beater of an electric stand mixer.
Just before serving, pour cream through a fine mesh strainer into the chilled mixing bowl. Add mascarpone and espresso, and beat on medium speed until ingredients are just combined. Increase speed to medium-high and with mixer running, sprinkle in sugar, beating until soft peaks form.
Top a pear half with a dollop of mascarpone cream. Add one or both of the finishing ingredients to taste.