Although I'm not a Christian, I'll take any excuse to pig out on pancakes and I always get caught up in the Pancake Day craze. I'm more of an American kind of girl; I prefer their airy thickness to the wafer-thin crepe. My usual is blueberry, enhanced with maple butter (also called maple cream - basically, 100% maple syrup heat treated so that it is a buttery, creamy, oh holy god dribble-worthy consistency) that I found at the back of the cupboard but this time I decided on something different. Some sort of fruit was required to go with the salty caramel syrup I had been mooning after.
Pears hold their shape well and in fact roasting is beneficial to the rock-solid specimens we get at the supermarket. The heat softens them up and releases their juices, so you can get away with pears which aren't quite at their best. Roasted with a dab of butter in their hollows, I splashed them with vanilla essence to add further fragrance. Served atop fluffy pancakes and drizzled - or, you know, drenched - in salty caramel sauce, this was one of the best things I've made in a while. That salty caramel is so addictive it forces you to eat it straight from the jug until you feel pretty damn sick.
Pancake recipe is here.
6 pears, slightly under-ripe
1 tsp vanilla essence
Enough butter to dot into the hollows
Heat the oven to 190 degrees C. Peel the pears and halve - scoop out the middles with the seeds and dot with a small cube of butter. Roast for 20 minutes, then turn over and roast for another 20 minutes. Smaller or riper pears may need less so give them a poke every so often.
Salty Caramel Syrup
150gr soft brown sugar
100ml double cream
A hefty pinch of sea salt flakes
In a large saucepan (don't be tempted to use a small one, you want some good whisking space) heat the sugar up until it has all melted, stirring occasionally so that it melts evenly. Add the butter in and whisk well until incorporated. It may look lumpy and a bit gross at this point. Whisk in the cream, poured in a steady stream. Cook gently while whisking until smooth and silky - this may take a few minutes. Add the salt and then taste - carefully, it'll be molten - and add more if you think it needs it. I like my caramel quite salty.
Serve the roasted pears atop the pancakes, drizzled with the caramel sauce.