Dilemma: I made these apples and pears expressly for an ice cream I plan to churn up over the weekend (vanilla, bourbon, crème fraîche… you’ll likely read more about it soon), but then they turned out so unexpectedly delicious on their own, I can’t stop devouring them right off the baking sheet.
These fruit slices, baked with just a suggestion of butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg, are cooked low and slow until they’re only partially dried. The results are soft bursts of concentrated flavor, and the occasional crunch from bits of caramelized brown sugar.
It doesn’t matter too much which varieties of apple or pear you use; I tried Bartlett, D’Anjou, and Bosc pears, and all came out well. Do use firm fruit though.
I promise, if you set out a bowl of these at your next holiday party, or bring a tin for the host or hostess, they will disappear quickly. You can also eat them with ice cream or yogurt, with oatmeal or waffles, or as a decorative top to a cake.
Makes about 60-70 fruit slices
- 3 firm pears
- 3 firm apples
- 1/2 cup dark muscovado (or brown) sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- 2-3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1. Peel the pears and apples. (I drop the fruit into a big bowl of lemony water as I go, to prevent them turning brown.) Core them as best you can, and then use a mandoline (or knife) to slice them lengthwise into 1/8-inch slivers.
2. Turn on the oven to 20oF.
3. Prepare the sugar and spice: Spoon the sugar into a medium bowl. Grate the nutmeg directly on top. Scrape the vanilla bean into the bowl as well (you can keep the pod for another usage). Use a spoon, or your fingers, to incorporate.
3. Lay the pear and apple slices flat onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets; for me, I needed three baking sheets.
4. Melt the butter in a small bowl. Use a pastry brush to give each pear and apple slice a quick butter-polish. Then, use your fingers to gently rub the sugar and spice mix onto each slice. Use any extra sugar to sprinkle over the top.
5. Move the baking sheets to the oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. If you want them closer to crisp, keep them in the oven up to 2 hours. Either way, try to let them cool slightly before eating.