Dulce de Leche Pear Bars
Dulce de leche — which is basically a fancy name for caramel sauce — is a gloriously sticky way of gilding the lily on most any dessert. Here, the store bought sauce is made even better with the addition of a little butter and brown sugar, before being drizzled on top of roasted pear bars. Homemade shortbread comes together in minutes to serve as a buttery base for the spiced, roasted pears. Serves 8
INGREDIENTS: Shortbread Base
3/4 cup unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks) 1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
To prepare the shortbread base: set the oven at 325 degrees. Line a 9-inch square baking dish with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Set aside.
To prepare the shortbread crust, take a small mixing bowl and stir together the first five ingredients listed above: butter, sugar, vanilla, salt and cinnamon.
Add the 1 1/2 cups of flour to the butter mixture and stir until fully incorporated. Press shortbread dough into the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
Bake in the oven for 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Begin to prep the pears while the crust bakes. You want the crust to be under-baked. Remove from the oven, leave the oven on and set aside, keeping the crust in the pan.
INGREDIENTS: Pear Topping
3 whole pears peeled, cored, and thinly sliced 3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1/2 cup dulce de leche (or caramel sauce)
To prepare the pear topping and dulce sauce: in a large mixing bowl, combine the pear slices with the granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice. Sprinkle the flour over the top and toss to coat. Set aside for 10 minutes, tossing frequently to allow the pear juices to thicken.
Pour the pear mixture over the par-baked shortbread crust, arranging the slices in one single layer. Gently press the pears into the shortbread crust.
Place back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. The pears should turn a golden brown as the shortbread crust crisps around the outside. Remove from the oven, set on a cooling rack for about 20 minutes before removing from the pan. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, prepare the dulce de leche sauce. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the dark brown sugar, stirring with a spatula until the sugar is fully incorporated, about 3 minutes.
Stir in the dulce de leche and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is smooth. Remove from heat and set aside. Cut the pear bars into 16 even squares. Take the warm dulce sauce, and use a spoon to drizzle it over the cooled pear bars.