These treats -- coated with caramel, bittersweet chocolate, and toasted almonds -- are a sophisticated alternative to caramel apples; they're best eaten the day they are made. You can buy Seckel pears at farmers' markets and some supermarkets. If you can't find them, any other small pears will also work.
- Yield: Makes 10
Source: Martha Stewart Living, October 2004
- 1 1/2 cups blanched almonds
- 10 twigs or wooden dowels
- 10 Seckel pears, or other small variety pears, washed and stemmed
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup dark corn syrup
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 7 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 tablespoon shortening
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place almonds on an ungreased baking sheet, and toast in oven until golden, about 10 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack, and let cool. Coarsely chop almonds, and set aside.
Carefully wash and dry twigs, if using them. Insert a 5-inch twig or wooden dowel into the top of each pear. Set the pears on an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet lined with a Silpat (a French nonstick baking mat). Set aside. Fill a medium bowl with ice and water, and set aside.
Place sugar, corn syrup, cream, and butter in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Continue cooking until the temperature registers 245 degrees on a candy thermometer, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat, and immediately plunge the saucepan into ice water to stop the cooking. Dip one pear into the caramel to coat, using a spoon if necessary. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pears.
In a double boiler over low heat, melt chocolate and shortening. Remove from heat. Dip caramel-coated pears into chocolate, and immediately roll in chopped almonds. Return coated pear to the Silpat-lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pears. Chill until the chocolate is set, about 15 minutes.