Sometimes, especially during the long cold months of winter, I need a little comfort food. There is nothing like the warmth of the kitchen, oven heating, cinnamon and nutmeg filling the air with spicy aromas. I have a ritual when I bake. Generally, the counters are clean so that I can immediately make a huge mess on them, a cup of coffee – preferably Starbuck’s Caramel – is waiting to be sipped periodically, and the children must be running madly through the house attempting to mame each other with implements of destruction (you know, trails of tiny legos that will either cause you to lose a foot or bust your bottom on the stairs or hot wheels that when thrown are WAY more aerodynamic than one might think). If the tinies are not single handedly trying to bring on the apocalypse by reenacting the battle between good and evil (we haven’t determined who is on which side yet) then what ever I am trying to bake is going to fail – it’s something about the environmental factors I think. 🙂
Well, as the battle raged, I decided that roasted apples and pears would be a perfect winter/early spring treat. Pair them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and the soft, warm fruit and melting ice cream are heaven! Who doesn’t need a little spoon full of heaven once in a while? To make these amazing little rays of sunshine, you simply start with your apple of choice. I really like honey crisp – for pretty much every purpose. The pears were Anjou, but any pear would do – red pears and Asian pears work nicely too. Wash, halve and core them, removing any parts of the stem that remain.
Once you have placed them in a glass baking dish, you are almost done. In an effort to reduce the amount of sugar I am consuming, I used Splenda, but white or brown sugar would easily work as well. I grate fresh nutmeg and sprinkle generously, followed by ground cinnamon. Then, I sprinkle with Splenda and top with chopped pecans. All of these toppings are adjusted for taste, but I average ½ teaspoon of nutmeg and cinnamon per half of fruit, 2 tablespoons of nuts, and 1 tablespoon of Splenda. Now for the good part. I melt some butter – but not just any butter -and drizzle over top of each half before placing them into a hot oven to bake.
I swear, the French know when they are doing on a few very distinct items. Among them is making butter. French butter has a higher fat content than American butter – and then there is one specific type that I found that is life changing. Life. Changing. Presidente butter bells with sea salt. The butter is made with tiny crystals of sea salt all through the butter. Somehow, it is perfectly made so that the sea salt doesn’t dissolve when you spread it on your toast, though I have never had an issue when I melted it for use in a recipe. That tiny bit of crunch as you sink your teeth into a hot, buttery slice of toast topped with homemade preserves (my favorite are fig) – that is what makes my chubby little heart happy.
But back to the apples. Once thoroughly drizzled, in they go for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the nuts are toasted and the fruit is soft. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla icecream for a comforting, soul soothing mouthful of rejuvenation.