Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pear and Cranberry Pie with Caramel Sauce

 A few years ago, at around this time of year, I was reading from our family's Better Homes and Gardens magazine.  A recipe caught my eye - and held it.  I ran to mom, begging her to let me make this fabulous-looking pie.  We went to the store, got the cranberries and caramel sauce, and bought red pears, because they were the ones showed in the recipe in the magazine, and were definitely the prettiest option.

I went home, made the pie, and then we took it to the family get-together.  Because we're a fairly pie-centric family, there were tons of pies.  Probably at least eight or nine varieties, and multiples of all the classics.  My poor little pie, beautiful though it was, got overlooked in favor of apple, pumpkin, and chocolate.

I persuaded some of the adults to try my pie, and they would.  They liked it, but then they would have a piece of lemon meringue and move on.  For a while, this was disheartening to me.  But at the end of the evening, as we were packing everything away, including more than 2/3 of my pie, something happened that cheered me up.  My dad mentioned pie for breakfast.

Pie for breakfast (and lunch and dinner and dessert) following Thanksgiving is another tradition of my family's.  And since I'd loved my pie, I would get to eat it all by myself, as long as I could keep others from finding out about its awesomeness.  I stashed it in the back of the fridge.

For the next week, I ate pear-cranberry pie for breakfast and snacks, bringing it out only when I was alone in the kitchen and hiding it in the back of a jam-packed refrigerator the rest of the time.  It was fabulous.

The next year, I couldn't find the recipe.  The next, I was at college and didn't even consider pear-cranberry pie-making within the abilities of a college student (I also thought that college students had to eat ramen, so I bought about ten packages of that.  They're still in my pantry, untouched.)  This year, however, I was determined to make pie.  Our roommate Thanksgiving gave me the perfect opportunity, and this was the pie I was most excited about.

I picked up the pears almost a week in advance; they were still a little unripe when I cut them, but it worked.  The cranberries were more bitter than I had been expecting - no big.  I didn't cook the caramel sauce all the way; oh well.  It came together beautifully, and I was excited to share.

The pie was a smashing success.  We invited some guys from our ward over to help us eat the five pies I'd made, and this was one of the favorites.  That was a bit disappointing for me, but I was glad that other people were finally acknowledging how delicious this pie recipe really is.  You should too!  I highly encourage you to go make this pie, and eat it, right now.  YUM.

Pear and Cranberry Pie
From Better Homes and Gardens

1 recipe unbaked pie crust
8 cups sliced red or green pears (6-8 pears, 3-3.5 lbs total)
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbs cornstarch
2 Tbs water
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbs sugar
2 Tbs. caramel topping or ice cream syrup (recipe below), plus additional for drizzling

Preheat oven to 375.  Prepare pie crust in a deep-dish pie dish.

Arrange half of the pears (4 cups) in pie dish.  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cranberries.  Arrange remaining pears on top.

Stir together 1/4 cup sugar, cornstarch, water, and nutmeg in a small bowl/measuring cup.  Drizzle over pears and cover pie with foil.

Bake 40 minutes.  Remove foil and sprinkle with 1 Tbs. sugar.  Bake, uncovered, an additional 30-35 minutes, or until pears are tender.  Remove from oven.

In a (very) small saucepan, combine remaining 1/2 cup of cranberries and 2 T caramel sauce.  Bring to boil and cook 1-2 minutes.  Spoon over pie.

Drizzle with additional caramel, and enjoy!

Easy Caramel Sauce
Also from Better Homes and Gardens
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 Tbs. cornstarch
1/4 cup water
1/3 cup half-and-half or light cream
2 Tbs. corn syrup
1 Tbs. butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Stir everything but the butter and vanilla together in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan.  Cook and stir until boiling.  Cook 2 minutes more.*  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and butter.

Store in refrigerator for up to a week.

*The recipe is unclear here.  I would just cook it until it's the texture you want for your caramel sauce.

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Did this recipe work for you? Tips, suggestions, or advice?