Ever since I can remember, pears have been one of my favorite fruits. My love affair with pears began with fruit cocktail when I was a child. I was perfectly happy with those syrup-soaked bits until I finally tried a fresh pear. If the fruit cocktail pears were good, this was phenomenal! I’m perfectly happy eating fresh pears like apples, but I have recently discovered pears are also good when cooked. Really good! I’ve tried roasted pears topped with granola and yogurt for breakfast, and wow! But today I’m going with a (probably) less healthy roasted pear dessert with this Roasted Pears with Espresso Mascarpone Cream recipe.
I was craving tiramisu one day, but needed to find a good substitute now that I’m gluten-free. Instead of trying to make wheat-free ladyfingers, I made a dessert inspired by tiramisu rather than a bleh recreation. The roasted pears were adapted from Smitten Kitchen. (This is really good with amaretto substituted in for the espresso, by the way. It gives the dish a whole different character.)
As usual, I did a quick search through my pantry and found that I had a few of the ingredients. Mostly the basics like sugar, butter, and cocoa powder, but I even found a vanilla bean.
That left me to shop for pears (I used Bartlett), mascarpone cheese (an 8-ounce container was perfect), heavy cream, and a few other basics. Nothing unusual, so no special trips or online orders were necessary.
When the day to make my Roasted Pears with Espresso Mascarpone Cream came around, I have to confess that I was quite tired. I had put off making this because I have had a lot of busy days, and I had to use the pears before they over-ripened. I ended up overcooking them, but they still tasted amazing. Here’s my time was spent:
- 11 minutes to prep
- 1 hour to roast pears & infuse the cream with vanilla
- 6 minutes to mix the espresso mascarpone cream
- 1 hour 17 minutes total (not including time for the pears to cool)
Prep Work & Roasting the Pears
I started off by roasting the pears. I didn’t peel them, and I cored them with a round teaspoon (a melon baller would also work). It’s not in the recipe, but I cut off a sliver of the rounded part to make the pears sit level. Then I sprinkled them with lemon juice and sugar, added some butter and water, then popped the roasting pan into the oven.
While the pears were roasting, I scraped the vanilla bean seeds into the heavy cream and placed the covered container into the refrigerator. The recipe also calls for the mixing bowl and beaters to be chilled, so I also added my stand mixer’s bowl and whisk attachment.
I basted the pears twice over the next half hour, then used a spatula to flip them. I repeated the same basting steps for the next half hour. But remember I mentioned I was tired? This is where it got me. I didn’t remember to check the pears for doneness at the 40-minute mark, and I overcooked them.
They tasted fine, but they got so soft that most of them didn’t hold their shape. They also became very delicate, and I broke a couple when I flipped them. Not good when you need to take pretty pictures for your blog LOL.
Anyhoo, while my pears were overcooking, I used my mini-prep to grind a few almonds. Then I put them into a small skillet and let them toast over medium-high heat. I forgot to time this part because I am so used to roasting nuts and seeds this way. I know they’re ready once the aroma hits and they begin to darken. I’d say it takes about 5-7 minutes.
An hour later, I removed the pan from the oven and let the pears cool on the counter for a while. Then I popped them into the refrigerator to speed things up. I took out the cream, mascarpone, and mixing equipment at the same time and got started on the topping.
Making the Espresso Mascarpone Cream
I used a regular mesh strainer to strain put the vanilla beans, and it didn’t work too well. My fine cocktail strainer did the trick, though, and restraining with it removed most of the vanilla seeds.
After that snafu, the rest was easy. My new stand mixer did most of the work, and I had a lovely mascarpone cream mixed up in 5-6 minutes. All I had to do was wait for the pears to chill.
The instructions say to top the pears with the mascarpone cream, but the photo shows them on top of the cream. I liked that, so I did the same thing. This Roasted Pears with Espresso Mascarpone Cream recipe makes a lot of the topping, so I had more than enough to serve them this way.