Easy Fancy. That’s my new thing. I love Easy Fancy food. Anything with puff pastry is Easy Fancy, and so are those charcuterie dinners you put together with meats, expensive cheeses, cornichons and other sundry pickles, bread, olives, fig spread, et al. As I’m learning, most flaming fruit desserts fall into this category–not just bananas foster.
Do not, under any circumstances, confuse Easy Fancy with “simple, yet elegant.” Michael used to work at Papa Haydn (for those of you outside Portland, that’s a nice “ladies who lunch” kind of restaurant that focuses on desserts and also bakes wedding cakes), and the bakers would roll their eyes when every single bride asked for something, “You know… simple, yet elegant.” To me, that means somebody went to a ton of work to make your cake totally, perfectly smooth, plain, and like it didn’t take a ton of work. Nice, but not my style.
I’m more into “rustic” (a.k.a. I did a slap-dash job of frosting your cupcakes), “natural” (a.k.a. this is how it came out of the pan and this is how you’ll eat it), or “Easy Fancy” (a.k.a. tell me how beautiful and breathtaking this is and I’ll tell you it took me ten minutes to make).
These Pernod Caramel Pears required about 10-15 minutes of my time, including peeling. They’re a pretty, fairly light finish to an Easy Fancy meal. The anise-flavored Pernod caramel sauce induced an involuntary pear-gobbling reaction in me. Bonus: fire was invited to the party.
Pernod Caramel Pears (adapted from the peche; originally from Pane e Salute)
Yield: 3 whole-pear size servings (or serve a half pear with ice cream or a small wedge of cake and save the leftover halves to eat on your oatmeal in the morning)
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/8 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
3 firm, ripe pears (The original recipe recommends Bartlett, but I used D’Anjou because that’s what I had. Sue me.), peeled, halved, and cored
1/4 cup Pernod
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cream, sugar, and salt, and cook, stirring constantly, for about two minutes. The mixture should be nice and hot and bubbly.
Carefully set the pears in the pan, cut side down (don’t touch the mixture in the pan–hot caramel burns). Place a lid over the pan for about 3 minutes to soften the pears a little. Remove the lid and let the pears cook a little longer, until the sauce turns a creamy amber color. Use a lifter to remove the pears and put them in a serving dish. Leave the sauce in the pan on the heat.
Measure the Pernod out into a separate container–a small liquid measuring cup works well. Carefully pour the Pernod into the pan. If you are cooking on a gas range, carefully tip the pan toward the flame to light the contents on fire. If you’re cooking on an electric range, light the sauce with a long match. Either way, don’t get your face all up in there. Let the flames die out, then turn off the heat, stir the sauce, and pour it over the pears.