Pears in nightshirts
Poached pears are covered with stiff meringue in this dessert. They're baked until the white "nightshirts" turn golden brown.
4 ripe baking pears, such as Bartlett or Bosc, stems intact
2 cups pear juice
2 cups water
1/4 cup sugar
1. With a vegetable peeler, peel the pears, leaving stems intact. Run the peeler a few times across the bottom of each pear to create a flat bottom for the fruits to sit upright.
2. In a deep pan that can hold all the pears upright, combine the pear juice, water, and sugar. Cook, stirring often, until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a boil.
3. Stand the pears in the hot liquid, lower the heat to a simmer, and cover the pan. Simmer the pears for 20 minutes or until they are tender when pierced with a skewer.
4. Use a slotted spoon to remove the pears from the pan, reserving the poaching liquid. Set the pears on paper towels to soak up excess moisture. Cool for 10 minutes.
Butter (for the dish)
4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 cup sugar
1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Butter a glass or ceramic baking dish large enough to hold the pears.
2. Bring the poaching liquid to a boil. Let it bubble steadily for 20 minutes or until it is thick and syrupy.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the meringue. In an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until the white forms medium-stiff peaks. With the mixer running, slowly add the sugar to the whites, scraping down the sides when you've added the final spoonful of sugar. Beat the meringue until it forms stiff peaks.
4. Blot the pears with paper towels to remove excess moisture. Transfer them to a glass baking dish. Use a spatula to cover each pear in meringue. Carefully hold each pear up by the stem while you slather the meringue on the bottom.
5. Bake the pears for 15 minutes or until meringue is set and beginning to turn golden.
6. To serve, drizzle the pear syrup around the surface of 4 dessert plates. Place 1 pear on each plate on top of the sauce. Adapted from "Eat Feed Autumn Winter"