Thursday, March 13, 2008

The Mystery of Burnt Caramel Sauce

At the last blogger dinner we had a gift exchange and I ended up with this jar of beautiful burnt caramel sauce. Of course that was 2 months ago. It's taken me that long to figure out what to do with it.

Part of the problem was my newly developed lactose intolerance. The easiest pairing is vanilla ice cream and I just didn't want to go there.

So last night I tried it out on some roasted pears and damn if it isn't like absolutely perfect. You roast the pears with vanilla and sweet dessert wine (or white wine with honey added) and then top them with the warmed burnt caramel sauce. The caramel adds this creamy sweetness but the pear keeps it light, like a perfect pear tart. You could go whole hog and top it with ice cream as well, but as I said before...dairy doesn't like me.

Incidentally, this stuff is far from lactose free. It's just not quite so tough on my stomach as ice cream.

Oh and my second use for this stuff? (this is for you Jay). Open faced peanut butter sandwiches with warm burnt caramel swirls. Fantastic.

I'm still trying to figure out a possible savory use for it, maybe involving some virginia ham. Or bacon. I'll let you know how it goes.

Roasted Pears with Vanilla
(adapted from A New Way to Cook, by Sally Schneider)

Okay just to let you know right off....Sally's recipe is a little fussy partly because she's trying to make sure you end up with a nice sauce. Since you have your own sauce (ta da! burnt caramel) you can actually afford to skip the fussiness a little. But I'll give you the whole thing anyway.

4 pears (1.5#)
1/2 vanilla bean
3/4 cup sweet dessert wine (or white wine such as riesling with 1/2 tsp honey)
1.5 T . sugar
salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375. Peel pears, cut in half and core. Butter a pan you can use on the stove and in the oven. Place pears cut side down in pan. Pour 1/2 cup of wine over pears. Split vanilla bean in half lengthwise and add seeds to wine. Put rest of bean in among the pears. Dot pears with butter. Sprinkle with a little saltBring to a boil over moderate heat. Put in oven and cover loosely with foil. Cook x35 minutes (brushing pears occasionally). Turn over, cook 15 minutes more (still covered). Pull out pan, add additional 1/4 cup wine, and cook down liquids until thick and syrupy (you might want to pull out the pears while you do this). Turn pears one last time. Sprinkle with sugar. Put back in oven 10 minutes or so until nicely browned. Add more wine if needed to dissolve the caramel in the pan and make a nice sauce.

Now heat up burnt caramel sauce in microwave or double boiler and pour over the top. Serve with ice cream if you're a glutton or just happen to be lucky enough to have lactase sitting around.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would imagine that the caramelization process would cause the lactose to interact with milk proteins so you'd convert a not insignificant amount of the lactose into caramel flavour components. Simpler sugars + sugar-amino acid compounds and the such.