Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Yields: 4-8 Servings
This recipe was shared by Susan Belsinger, a culinary herbalist, educator, food writer and photographer. These sublime pears may be served warm or at room temperature. Try adorning them with whipped cream or even vanilla ice cream if desired. Choose pears that are firm and nearly ripe—about two days from eating out of hand—Bartlett, Bosc, or D’anjou will do.
4 firm, ripe pears
8 scented geranium leaves
8 tbsps scented geranium sugar (see recipe below)
1/4 cup water
Remove the zest from the lemon in large strips. Cut the lemon in half and reserve one-half. Peel the pears, halve them lengthwise and remove their cores. Place them in a large non-reactive sauté pan so that they will all fit in one layer. As you peel each pear, place the halves in the pan, cut-side-down, and squeeze a little lemon juice over each pear half (use the juice of half a lemon total). When all of the pears are in the pan, scatter the lemon zest strips over the pears, place the leaves in the pan, and sprinkle the sugar overall. Cover the sauté pan and place over medium heat. Cook covered for about 7 or 8 minutes; the liquid in the pan will be bubbling furiously. Remove lid and carefully turn the pears over with a spatula so that the round side is down. Once turned, carefully add the water, shake the pan, and cover. Cook for 7 or 8 minutes more. Turn the pears over once again so the rounded side is up; they may have a few golden brown spots. Test for doneness with the tip of a knife—the pears should be tender—but not mushy. Remove the pears immediately to a serving platter and scrape all of the caramel, (there won’t be much) lemon-zest strips and wilted geranium leaves from the pan over the pears. If you prefer, remove the wilted leaves and garnish with fresh ones. Serve immediately, slightly warm, or at room temperature.
Scented Geranium Sugar
Prep Time: 2 weeks
2 cups sugar
1 handful of herb leaves &/or flowers
To prepare scented sugar, use a clean pint jar with a tight-fitting lid. Fill the jar about one-quarter full with sugar, place a few herb leaves and/or flowers in the sugar. Cover with sugar so that the jar is half full, add a few more herbs and add sugar until the jar is three-quarters full, add a few more leaves, cover with sugar to fill the jar, leaving about 1/2 inch headspace. Shake the jar and place on a shelf in a cool, dark place. The sugar will be ready to use in two to three weeks and will become more flavorful with age. As the sugar is consumed, add more plain sugar to take its place and it will take on the fragrance in the jar. Since herbs contain moisture, the sugar will absorb some of it and perhaps cake together, or even harden. If this happens, just use firm pressure to crumble it with your hands, or the back of a wooden spoon.