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New Recipe: Vanilla Roasted Pears with Cranberries

Sweet pears meet tangy cranberries (and caramel, and red wine) for a Thanksgiving dessert match made in heaven. Learn to cook it following our Guided Video Recipe.

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Every Thanksgiving cook needs a ta-da recipe. And while Norman Rockwell might have placed his bets on the turkey, I favor dessert for the win. This year, if you’re looking to change up the usual pies (or add to them!), consider making elegant whole roasted pears in a caramel, vanilla, and red wine-cranberry sauce.

It’s one of those recipes that’s more than the sum of its parts: only six ingredients, surprisingly easy to create in just over an hour total time (no crust to roll or crimp), yet with a big payoff in terms of beauty and deliciousness. Like our other Guided Recipe Videos, the pears are a Yummly original, created and tested by our team of contributors. And by the way, the recipe is gluten-free, in case you're looking for that.

What you need to know about roasted pears

Before we jump into the cooking, you may have a few questions about roasting pears.

What are the best pears for baking? Since these are roasted whole rather than as pear halves, shapely Bosc pears or Bartletts look especially pretty, though you could opt for Anjou pears too. Just don’t use Comice, as they’re so juicy they could fall apart in the oven.

Should you use ripe pears? Normally, this is a given when you're cooking, but here, you want the pears to hold their shape during baking, so use fruit that’s still firm-ripe, with only a little give at the stem end when lightly pressed.

Can you make roasted pears ahead of time? Yes, you can bake the dessert Thanksgiving morning and serve it at room temperature, or reheat it briefly just before serving.

How to make roasted pears, step by step

To core the fruit without spoiling its pretty shape, scoop from the base of the pears using a melon baller or a small knife. (Just click on the video to see how easy it is.) Then peel the pears. There's no lemon juice in the recipe to keep the pears from browning, but the prep time is pretty quick and the red wine will color the fruit, so you're okay.

You want the pears to stand up dramatically at serving time with no danger of them flopping over, so cut a thin slice from the base of the fruit to be sure the pears sit flat.

Make a caramel, vanilla, and red wine poaching sauce

Add red wine to the caramelized sugar and vanilla

Remember the part about only six ingredients? The sauce is where you begin to coax the maximum amount of flavor out of each one. You’re going to cook sugar with vanilla beans until the sugar melts and is deeply caramelized. Then add red wine; the mixture will bubble furiously and the sugar will seize up before it melts again. By the way, a cast-iron skillet works beautifully here, and it makes a handsomely rustic baking dish and serving dish.

Poach the pears briefly

Turn pears in caramelized sugar and wine poaching liquid

The pears in this recipe cook twice, another reason to use firm-ripe fruit. Start by poaching them in the red wine sauce until barely tender, turning them every so often on the long sides rather than the cut sides. Next add fresh or frozen cranberries.

Bake, baste, and serve

Spoon cranberry sauce over roasted pears

Once you've got the cranberries in the sauce, arrange the pears in the skillet with the cut side (the flat, cored base) down and pop the pan into the oven. Roast the pears and cranberries to tenderness, basting the pears a few times with the sauce, which will reduce a bit during baking and concentrate in flavor.

Ready for your big moment? Carry the fragrant glazed pears to the table and serve them with a generous drizzle of the sauce, plus vanilla ice cream, crème fraîche, or a big dollop of whipped cream. And don’t forget to take a bow.

If you're dreaming of more fall dinner parties, we have lots of additional pear desserts on Yummly, including easy recipes with favorite flavors like brown sugar, pecans, ground cinnamon, and vanilla extract.

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