Caramelised Apples and Pears is the perfect recipe for those autumn and winter nights where you want something hot, winter-spicy and deliciously seasonal. This recipe is very quick and simple to make and it goes really well around Christmas, they have that wonderful Christmas smell to them, (with the cloves, cinnamon and star anise as ingredients). However, adding a dollop of fresh double-cream or vanilla ice-cream is essential to cut through the sweetness of the caramel sauce, giving it a much needed balance.
Within the dish the caramel sauce does initially dominate the taste – and although brandy is used, the subtle flavour is not unlike a syrupy mulled wine – but when you bite into the soft fruit, which has been gently stewed in the syrup, then the clear, bright apple and pear flavour comes through. Which is why it is important to buy really good quality fresh fruit, (which is still firm) so that it will stand up to the rigours of the frying pan – having a yielding, soft texture after stewing is not the same as serving mush. In terms of timing, this dish really needs to be served immediately, but it only takes 25 minutes to make.
Caramelised Apples And Pears Recipe
Makes enough for 4 people.
- 3 or 4 firm apples (Braeburn if possible)
- 3 or 4 firm pears (Conference if possible)
- 80g sugar
- 40g unsalted butter
- 30ml of Brandy
- 100ml apple juice (fresh, not from concentrate)
- 4 small cinnamon sticks (or break 2 larger ones in half)
- 12 whole black-peppercorns (lightly crushed)
- 8 whole cloves
- 4 whole star anise
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- Scoop of extra thick cream or vanilla ice cream (to serve)
Before beginning the apples need to be cored, using an apple corer. Once cored carefully peel off the skins and cut the apples into quarters. Peel the pears and cut them into halves, use a small spoon to scoop out the middle core and strip out the long thin stand of stringy core running throughout the inside up to the top of the pear.
Over the base of a very large and wide, heavy frying pan scatter the sugar and place on a high heat until the sugar melts and begins to caramelise around the edge of the pan. Add the spices, stir in and then add the butter. Swirl the pan gently around to melt the butter into the caramelising sugar and spices.
Add the apples and pears, first of all cut side down. Fry these for about 5–7 minutes, until evenly caramelised all over with the sugar and spices, turning them several times. When the apples and pears are coated and softening, add the brandy. Note: the alcohol may flambe so be careful and hold the pan steady, and at arms length.
Finally pour in the apple juice and simmer until all the liquid has reduced and thickened to a wonderful syrupy sauce. When the sauce has thickened, (if too thick add a little more fresh apple juice) take off the heat and leave to cool slightly.
Evenly divide the fruit among warm plates and spoon over the caramel sauce. Serve with a generous portion of extra thick double cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Warn guests to stay clear of the largest spices in the caramel sauce, but don’t trouble yourself to remove them, they add to the look of the dish.