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Salty-and-sweet mini caramel pears with peanuts

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Ingredients

  • 1 16-ounce box dark brown sugar
  • 1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 2/3 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 stick (16 tablespoons) unsalted butter at room temperature, plus more for baking sheets
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon molasses
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 24 cup 8-inch wooden popsicle sticks
  • 24 cup mini pears, such as forelles, unpeeled (see note)
  • 2 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts
  • Preparation

    Baking Directions:

    To make the caramel, in a 2 1/2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepot over medium-low heat combine the first 8 ingredients.

    Cook, stirring often with a wooden spoon and occasionally brushing the inside edge of the pot with a wet pastry brush, until the sugar dissolves, about 15 minutes.

    Increase the heat to medium high and cook at a rolling boil, stirring constantly but slowly with a wooden spoon, until the caramel reaches 236 degrees F on a candy thermometer, 12 more minutes, continuing to brush the inside edge of the pot with a wet pastry brush as needed.

    Pour the caramel into a metal bowl (do not scrape the pot out); submerge the thermometer bulb into the caramel to cool, without stirring until the temperature drops to 200 degrees F, about 20 minutes.

    Meanwhile line 2 baking sheets with parchment and butter the parchment.

    Insert 1 stick into the top of each pear, pushing it half way down into the pear.

    Holding the end of the stick, dip the pear into the cooled caramel, submerging all but the very top-end of the fruit, allowing the excess caramel to drip back into the bowl.

    Turn the pear right side up to let the caramel set.

    Place the pear onto the prepared baking sheets.

    Repeat this process with the remaining pears and caramel, spacing the pears about 2 inches apart (the caramel may pool on the baking sheet).

    If the caramel becomes too thick to dip, whisk in 1 to 2 tablespoons of the cream, or as needed, and gently reheat the caramel in the bowl over a very low heat, stirring until it thins.

    Refrigerate the coated pears until the caramel is partially set, about 15 minutes.

    Lift the pears one by one off the parchment and, using your hands, press and pull the cooling caramel around the fruit to cover it completely.

    Roll the coated pears in the crushed peanuts; let them rest about an hour before serving.

    Tips:

    Forelles, and other small varieties of pears, are often available at farmer's markets in November and December.

    If you cannot find Forelles, use whatever pears you can find.

    The prepared pears can be kept, refrigerated, for about one week.