- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Can you really end dinner with something that sounds like breakfast? Just try this caramelized pear recipe for a new take on French toast.

The dessert has plenty of appropriate elements, with seasonal fresh fruit nicely dressed up, served over rich challah French toast and topped with vanilla-bean ice cream.

Caramelized French toast with vanilla pears

VANILLA PEARS:

2 tablespoons butter

3 large ripe Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and sliced

cup brown sugar

teaspoon vanilla extract

FRENCH TOAST:

2 eggs

⅔ cup half-and-half

1 tablespoon sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

teaspoon cinnamon

4 1-inch-thick slices challah bread (or other sweet egg bread)

2 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons brown sugar

Vanilla-bean ice cream

To prepare vanilla pears: Melt butter in a medium skillet. Add pears, brown sugar and vanilla. Simmer over medium-high heat for 2 to 3 minutes until pears are tender. Remove from heat and carefully remove pears from pan with a slotted spoon. Let pears stand for a few minutes, then drain any juices into skillet. Place skillet back over medium-high heat and cook for about 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until sauce is thickened and caramelized. Remove from heat and set aside.

To prepare French toast: Beat eggs, half-and-half, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a large shallow bowl. Add bread slices and let soak for about 2 minutes to absorb mixture. Turn and let stand 2 minutes more.

Melt butter in a large skillet. Sprinkle tablespoon brown sugar on each side of bread. Cook over medium-high heat for about 2 to 3 minutes per side until crisp, being careful not to burn the sugar. Transfer to plates and top with pears, caramel sauce and a small scoop of ice cream. Makes 4 servings.

ASSOCIATED PRESS

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