You will see all kinds of fruit dipped in chocolate, from delicate berries to large stone fruit. When it comes to caramel dipped fruits, however, apples are just about the only ones that you see. Sweet-tart apples are a great match for caramel and the fruit is sturdy enough to hold up to being dipped into relatively hot caramel (chocolate melts at body temperature, so is much cooler when things are dipped into it compared to caramel), but apples aren’t the only fruit that can be dipped in caramel and I have recently discovered that Caramel-Dipped Pears can be a wonderful treat, too.
To make these, I first prepared a batch of the same salted caramel that I used when making my Classic Caramel Apples and then dipped not-quite-ripe pears into it, holding the pears by their stems. Pears don’t take as well to having chopsticks inserted into them as apples do. Fortunately, when the pears are not yet at their peak of ripeness, it is easy to handle them simply by holding on to the stems. Ideally, the pears that you use for dipping should only have a very slight give to them if you give them a gentle squeeze with your fingertips.
It is important to use a pear that isn’t quite ripe yet for several reasons. First, the pears are sturdier and will hold up to both the dipping process and the warmth of the caramel. A pear that is already extremely ripe and soft may break apart when dipped into the caramel, or the skin might tear. Second, using slightly unripe pears allows you to dip your pears well ahead of time. The pears will continue to ripen after being dipped (since pears generally ripen off their trees), so you can dip them one day and have a perfectly tender, ripe pear that is enrobed in caramel and ready to eat a couple of days later. If you really want your pears to last, you can store them in the fridge, where they will ripen even more slowly than pears at room temperature.
I used Comice pears – Royal Riviera Pears from Harry & David, to be specific – because they are my favorite type of pear. Sweet and juicy, they have a sturdy flesh and are large enough that you get a great ratio of caramel to pear. These pears also become extremely tender when they are ripe, providing a great contrast to the chewy caramel. You can use other types of pears, too. Bosc pears are a great choice and have a nice firm flesh that makes them a popular choice for poaching and baking. Anjou and Bartlett pears, providing they have stems long enough to grasp when dipping them, can be good choices, too.
6-8 large, not-quite-ripe pears (Comice, bosc or other variety)
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 tsp salt
Place a sheet of parchment paper or a silpat on a large, flat surface, such as a baking sheet or the countertop.
In a large saucepan, combine water, corn syrup and sugar. Bring to a boil over high heat, then continue to boil until caramel turns a deep honey color (10-14 minutes).
While sugar cooks, combine cream and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and cook for 1-2 minutes on high heat, until butter is melted. Set aside.
When sugar is a deep honey color, pour in cream mixture. Caramel will bubble up vigorously. Stir until bubbles subside slightly, then stir in salt. Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pan and continue to cook, stirring regularly with a silicone spatula, until caramel reaches 260F (5-10 minutes).
Pour caramel into a deep glass or pyrex bowl or large measuring cup. Stir regularly with a spatula for 4-5 minutes, until caramel cools slightly.
Gripping them by their stems, carefully dip the pears one by one into the caramel and swirl to coat. Allow excess caramel to drip off. Place on prepared parchment and allow to cool completely.
Pears can be stored at room temperature or in the fridge, for longer term storage. Depending on the ripeness of the pear (you’ll want to wait until they’re fully ripe to eat them), they will last from a few days to two weeks in the fridge.
Makes 6-8, depening on the size of the pears.