Caramel and pears are a classic combo and the aniseed and whisky infuse the sauce with smoky undertones.
50 grams butter
3 large ripe pears, quartered and cored (I used brown-skinned Beurre Bosc pears)
2 tablespoons whisky or other spirit of choice
100 grams mild honey
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
¼ teaspoon whole aniseed (see Cook’s note)
1/3 cup sliced almonds
½ cup cream
½ teaspoon sea salt
extra lightly whipped cream for serving
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat then add the butter. When foaming, add the pears and cook, turning to colour each side until lightly golden. Transfer the pears to a serving dish.
Add the whisky to the pan and let it bubble up then add the honey, vanilla, aniseed and the almonds and cook for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until it’s a good caramel colour. Add the cream and cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in the salt then spoon the sauce over the pears and serve with extra cream if desired.
Cook's note: Aniseed is not the same as star anise. Aniseed is the spice used to make the French drink Pastis and is widely used in Europe and the Middle East to flavour breads and cakes. Star anise is a small star-shaped spice with 5-6 points, each containing a seed. It is used in Chinese five spice and many Asian recipes. Aniseed is available from gourmet and specialty food stores.