Our tummies have been craving warmth lately. Bowls of soup so scorching the billowing steam is almost opaque, cups of coffee that turn the tough skin of our fingers pink while cradling the mug from table to lips, spoon-hugging chili with a heavy-handed spatter of spice that causes the skin of my eyelids to sweat and this, pear and apple sauce. Right off the stove, foolishly, so it sears the skin of our throats as it goes down.
This is the stuff of dreams. The type of treat you wait until no one is looking and lick the sides of the bowl. It has a texture similar to the Mott’s Applesauce of my childhood, but boasts a flavour far more mature. The fruit, roasted in a mixture of brown sugar and warm spices, develops a nutty caramelization around the edges that gives the sauce such a brilliant richness. Of course, the addition of fragrant brown butter and smooth, woodsy whiskey doesn’t hurt either. A hit of lemon balances everything out so it isn’t so rich you can only handle one bite.
Using a mixture of pears and apples, especially the sad bruised ones you won’t eat, ensures a nice round flavor. I used gala, macintosh, and empire apples and d’anjou and bosc pears. Feel free to use whatever you have so long as it’s good and (borderline over) ripe.
Roasted Pear and Apple Sauce with Whiskey and Brown Butter
makes about 5-6 cups
I like adding milk to my sauce because it makes it tastes richer and lingers a bit on the tongue. Feel free to use cider or water in it’s place if you’d like.
3lbs mixed apples and pears, sliced in half + cored
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp freshly ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
1/8 tsp nutmeg
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp Canadian whiskey
1 tbsp lemon juice
pinch sea salt
1/3 cup 2% milk
Preheat oven to 375. Place sliced + cored pears/apples on a high-sided baking sheet or roasting pan cut side up. Sprinkle with brown sugar and spices and pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until a knife goes easily through the center of the fruit.
While the apples and pears roast, place the butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Let cook, swirling the pan occasionally, until butter is brown and nutty. Pay close attention so it doesn’t burn. There should be golden flecks of milk solids - that’s where all the flavour lives! Once it’s golden brown and fragrant, pour in the whiskey, lemon juice and salt and swirl everything around a bit to combine.
Place the roasted fruit (skins and all), the butter/whiskey mixture and the milk into the bowl of a food processor or blender and process until smooth (or less if you prefer it chunky). Serve with toasted pepitas and extra cinnamon/brown sugar if you’d like.