Caramel apples may be more traditional, but caramel pears are way more fun. For easy dipping (and eating), look for small, firm-ripe varieties, such as Seckel. After dipping each one in the homemade caramel, we rolled the pears in chopped almonds to add a nice salty crunch. But feel free to use whatever nut you please: toasted hazelnuts, walnuts, or peanuts would all be delicious. Though it may be tempting to devour immediately, letting the treats cool to room temperature will help the caramel firm. Serve them as a fun after-dinner dessert, or put them out at your Halloween party.
8 small firm-ripe pears, such as Seckel or Forelle
1 cup roasted salted almonds, finely chopped
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pure almond extract
How to Make It
Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment. Wash and thoroughly dry pears and insert a wooden skewer through the stem end. Place almonds in a small, shallow bowl.
Combine sugar and ½ cup water in a heavy bottomed medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Stop stirring when mixture reaches a boil; continue to cook until light amber, swirling pan occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes more.
Carefully add cream to caramel, pouring in a slow, steady stream (mixture will bubble and steam enthusiastically). Stir gently with a heatproof spatula, then insert a candy thermometer. Continue to cook until mixture reaches soft-ball stage (238°F). Immediately pour caramel into a heatproof bowl (do not scrape bottom of pan). Stir in salt and almond extract.
Cool mixture, stirring occasionally, until caramel coats a rubber spatula, about 1 minute. Dip pears into caramel, rolling to coat about halfway. Dip coated pears into chopped almonds, then set on prepared baking sheet to cool to room temperature. Store at room temperature for up to two days.
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