Gail Monaghan


About the Recipe

This is one of my favorite winter dessert recipes and one of the easiest. You don't even have to peel the pears. I've tweaked a recipe given to me a year or two ago by my close friend Eric Boman, one of the best home cooks (and the very best photographer) I know. If you prefer, serve vanilla ice cream alongside. But for me, the the tang of the creme fraiche is the absolute perfect foil to the caramelly sweetness of the pears.

And if you prefer vanilla-flavored pears to ginger, substitute and a sliced-open vanilla bean for the ginger coins.


Serves 6


  • 1 ½ cup sugar

  • pinch of fine sea salt

  • 6 hard-ripe Bosc or Bartlett pears, halved lengthwise

  • 2-3 inches of fresh ginger, trimmed, peeled and cut into rounds about ¼ inch thick

  • 1 ½ cup crème fraiche or sour cream mixed with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 2 tablespoons Williams Poire (optional)


  1. Choose a large lidded skillet that will hold all the pear halves in one layer. Cover the bottom with 1/8 inch of water and place on a burner over high heat.

  2. Sprinkle the sugar evenly over the water. Tip skillet to mix. Don’t stir.

  3. The sugar mixture will boil and become clear. When browning begins, turn the heat down to low and continue to tilt the skillet to mix. Continue to tilt and mix until the sugar is deep caramel. Take the skillet off the heat.

  4. While the sugar is cooking, use a melon-baller or a sharp knife to remove the seeds from the pear halves. Leave stems and core intact and do not peel.

  5. Place the ginger “coins” in the caramel and the pear halves cut side down on top, in a concentric circle beginning from the outside with the pear halves pointing inward, and then fill in the middle as best you can.

  6. Place the skillet over very low heat and cover. Check after 35 minutes though the pears will probably take longer to cook. The pears are done when a small sharp knife sinks into them without resistance, but if you should overcook them they shrivel up bit but remain every bit as delicious.

  7. Transfer pears to a large platter, cut side up. Discard the ginger (though it's quite delicious if you want to eat it)

  8. Deglaze the skillet with a couple tablespoons of very hot water and 2 tablespoons of Williams Poire if desired. Pour the caramel over the pears on the platter.

  9. Serve warm or at room temperature with Vanilla Creme Fraiche or sour cream on the side.