6 firm, ripe Bosc pears
2 cups granulated sugar
2 vanilla beans, split, scraped
½ t. cream of tartar or 2 t. lemon juice
2 oz. unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
1½ cups lightly toasted, skinned hazelnuts, divided
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup granulated sugar
1 t. salt
1. Peel and halve pears, leaving stem intact on half of each pear. Set aside.
2. Put sugar, 1 cup water and vanilla bean seeds in shallow, wide nonreactive pan with heavy bottom and tight-fitting lid. Add cream of tartar or lemon juice; stir until sugar completely moistened. Heat sugar, covered, over medium heat until dissolved and syrup bubbling. Remove lid, increase heat; continue cooking until lightly caramelized and golden-brown. Add butter; swirl in pan until melted and uniform color. Place pear halves in caramel, cut side down; cook over medium heat, occasionally basting with caramel. When sauce begins to attach itself to pears causing them to color, transfer to parchment-lined sheet pan. Drizzle with remaining caramel.
3. Set aside ½ cup hazelnuts. Put remaining 1 cup in food processor; add olive oil, sugar and salt. Pulse several times. Blend briefly on low speed; increase speed to form smooth paste, adding water 1 T. at a time if necessary to achieve slightly looser consistency than peanut butter.
4. To serve: Coarsely chop reserved hazelnuts. Drain excess caramel from pear halves. Coat with hazelnut butter; roll in chopped hazelnuts. Serve warm or at room temperature with ice cream or whipped cream.
Reprinted with permission from the American Culinary Federation and Credit: Matt Lightner, Chef, Atera, New York
The National Culinary Review, July/August 2016