This is the single best-smelling dessert I have ever made in my life, and when you make it, you will understand why. It is also, for something so simple and fruit-based, one of the most delicious.
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 vanilla bean, or 1 small vanilla bean, or 1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 pounds slightly-under-ripe, fragrant, medium pears (I used Bosch, but you can probably use your favourite. If you aren’t sure about how many pounds of pears you have, go for 3-6 depending on size.)
2 tablespoons lemon juice, and the lemons it came from
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoon vegan margarine (or unsalted butter or normal margarine)
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Put the sugar into a bowl big enough to hold it with a bit of space. Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Do not attempt to do this sans cutting board unless you are braver with knives than I am. If you don’t have a vanilla bean due to not knowing where to find one or being unwilling to pay $3-12 dollars for one ingredient for one recipe (though when you smell it, it is sort of worth it), sprinkle 1 tsp of vanilla extract over the sugar instead. In either case, stir.
3. Cut your pears in half lengthwise (through the stem). If they are only slightly under-ripe, you should be able to use a spoon (I used a metal tablespoon) to scoop out the core/seeds part. When you do this the stem will probably scoop out along with it. If it doesn’t, run a sharp knife along it and try again.
4. Arrange the pears in a baking dish large enough for them to all lay flat or close to flat, cut side up. Drizzle the lemon juice evenly over the fruit, and then sprinkle everything with sugar. Leave the halves of the juiced lemon in the pan (trust me on this).
5. Pour the water into the pan. Put a bit of the margarine or butter (the original recipe calls for unsalted butter, but it works with margarine or vegan margarine) into the core of each pear.
6. Roast for 30 minutes, brushing them every 10 minutes with their own juice. After 30 minutes, flip them and roast for another 20-30 minutes, continuing to brush them, until caramelized. Find out whether they’re done by sticking them with a fork; there should be no resistance. I’m not really sure what would happen if you overcooked them, but they taste delicious a little under-cooked anyway, so don’t over think it. Once you smell them, undercooking will be the greater risk.
7. Serve warm.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.