A friend had asked for some healthy dessert recipes, and I realized that 1) I don’t have many to recommend to her and 2) I typically say “to heck with being healthy” when it comes to dessert. I’d rather just really have dessert and make it count versus making healthier versions of it. I’ve also noticed that I crave sweets less when I just don’t have them, so it’s better for me to eat them sparingly versus trying to make them healthier.
But. I figured I could at least attempt some healthier versions of some of our favorites, so, in the interest of full disclosure, I made a sugar-free (used honey instead) whole grain version of this cake but with blood oranges – and it was terrible. I also attempted some paleo cookie balls in which I subbed coconut flour for almond flour, which was decidedly a no-no. J and M still ate them because they had dark chocolate in them, but I thought they were gross.
I was about to give up and just go back to my all-or-nothing ways when someone gave me some pears, and we were having some new friends over for dinner one night last week. I figured I would give the whole healthier dessert thing another go.
I wanted to do David Lebovitz’s poached pears on the stove, but my pears were definitely not firm like David insisted they be. I was also a bit nervous about subbing out honey for the sugar because it needed to be syrupy. I’ll come back to that option for sure. So instead, I just threw them in the oven right before we sat down for dinner, and they were finished and delicious for dessert. They would have been even better (!) with some homemade whipped cream or vanilla ice cream on top, but this was a weeknight so I felt like we should stick to the straight and narrow.
I think these would work with all sorts of fruits, depending on the season: apples obviously, but peaches, plums, bananas, and probably even berries too. I will sacrifice and test them out for you, of course.
- 4 pears
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2-3 tbsp raw honey
- 1-2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla (vanilla beans would have been even better but I was out)
- 1/4 cup of water
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Slice the pears in half, and scoop out the seeds and the core. I like the skins, so I kept them on, but please feel free to peel them if you like extra work.
- Arrange the pears in your baking dish skin-side down. I couldn't find my 8x11 glass pan, which would have been perfect for this, so I resorted to a glass casserole dish. My pears were a little cozy, but they didn't seem to mind.
- Add about a 1/4 tablespoon of butter on top of each pear. You don't have to be exact here. I basically cut two tablespoons of butter, and then diced them up to make eight even-ish sections.
- Put the honey on top. My honey was a bit firm, so I had trouble doing this evenly. It all came out fine in the end though.
- Sprinkle the cinnamon on top.
- Add the vanilla to the water and pour gently over the pears.
- Put in the oven for about 45 minutes.
- This can easily be scaled based on the number of people you're serving. Count on 1 tablespoon of butter and about 1.5 tablespoons of honey per pear.