Caramelized Pears with Vanilla Mousse

Continuing with our menu ideas for a romantic Valentine's Day dinner at home, we find ourselves reaching the end of a decadent meal featuring salmon and asparagus alongside a hearty barley salad. How do you cap such an elegant dinner? With caramelized fruit and a creamy vanilla mousse!

The vanilla mousse is really just a bit of a cheat that involves making instant pudding with whipped heavy cream to give it the depth and flavor you'd expect from mousse without requiring much in the way of time. This recipe will make more than you need - refrigerate any leftovers or, for a fun frozen treat, pop it in the freezer and use in place of ice cream!

The other half of this recipe has you letting butter, sugar, and pears make a fantastic caramel sauce in minutes. I used red D'Anjou pears, but use whatever you have available. Avoid very ripe pears, as they will fall apart easily. This is an excellent recipe to use for those not-quite-ready pears that you've been drooling over!

Once assembled, particularly if you happen to have some pretty martini glass for showing it off, this dessert is sure to impress. What better day than Valentine's Day to showcase so many layers of delicious in one simple dessert?

Caramelized Pears with Vanilla Mousse

  • ¾ c. heavy cream
  • 1 (4 oz.) pkg. instant vanilla pudding
  • 2 ripe pears, cut in half
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar, divided
  • 2 T. salted butter

Place the heavy cream in the bowl of your stand mixer and, using the whisk attachment, beat it at medium-high speed until soft peaks begin to form. Turn the mixer to low and carefully sprinkle the pudding mix over the cream mixture. Return the speed to medium-high and continue mixing until the "mousse" gets firm. Set aside.

Sprinkle the cut sides of the pears generously with the granulated sugar - use more sugar than indicated in the recipe if you need more to coat the entire cut side. Set aside.

Heat the butter in a medium nonstick skillet until melted. Add the pears, cut side down, into the melted butter and allow them to cook without moving them for 4-6 minutes or until the sugar caramelizes and the pears release some of their juice into the pan. Remove the pears to a plate to cool slightly and scrape the skillet with a heatproof spatula to collect the pear caramel that's formed. Set aside.

To assemble the dessert, place two pear halves in a pretty martini glass and add a scoop of the vanilla mousse over the top. Drizzle some of the pear caramel over the top of it all and serve immediately.

  • Yields: 2 servings
  • Preparation Time: 15 minutes

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