My Grandma’s Caramel Pear Pie

My grandmother has a Kieffer pear tree in her backyard, so this pie made an appearance quite frequently. And thank God for that, because it is definitely in my top 3 favorite pies of all time. It’s a great pie to welcome Autumn because Kieffer pears are ready to be picked in mid-August. Kieffer pears are rock hard and they stay rock hard for quite some time even on the counter top. However, they bake beautifully into a pie. They get just soft enough and release delicious juices without becoming mush. They can be cut and frozen if you find yourself with a bounty! You can also can them; my grandmother does, but that’s an entirely different recipe.

Caramel Pear Pie

Yield: One 9-inch pie

Ingredients

  • One double pie crust recipe (see note)
  • 6 cups Kieffer pears, peeled, cored, and sliced (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (see note)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 egg, beaten

Caramel Sauce

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Prepare your favorite pie crust recipe, doubling if necessary to make two crusts. Allow them to chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Note: Store-bought can be used if you wish.
  3. Make the caramel sauce. Heat the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. The sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.
  4. Once the sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. The caramel will bubble when the butter is added, so be careful!
  5. Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2 minutes.
  6. Very slowly drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while stirring. The mixture will bubble when added. Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils. Be careful not to overcook, or the mixture could reach the hard-crack stage.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow to slightly cool down before using.
  8. Combine all of the pie ingredients in a bowl and stir together, ensuring that the pears are well-coated. Stir in the caramel sauce.
  9. Roll out your pie crusts and gently press one crust in the bottom of a 9-inch pie dish. Pour the filling into the prepared crust.
  10. Roll out the second crust and weave a lattice crust over the pie filling. Brush the lattice crust and the edges with the beaten egg.
  11. Bake the pie on top of the foil-lined baking sheet for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 50-60 minutes until the filling is bubbling. If the lattice and edges begin to brown too quickly, cover the top of the pie with a piece of foil. Note: When a toothpick inserted into a pear slice meets no resistance, the pie is done.
  12. Turn off the oven and allow the pie to sit in the oven for 10-20 minutes longer. Remove the pie and cool completely before serving.

Recipe Notes

  • If you don’t want to make a double pie crust or make a lattice, this pie works excellently with your favorite crumble recipe. The same baking rules will apply, and if the crumble begins to brown you can cover it with a piece of foil.
  • If you are not blessed enough to have a Kieffer pear tree in your backyard, any pear can be used. You will want firm pears, not soft pears.
  • If your pears are on the softer side and are producing a great deal of juices as you cut them, add one more tablespoon of flour.
  • If you would like to drizzle the top of the pie with more caramel when it is done baking, you can simply double the caramel recipe and only stir half into the pie. If you don’t want to make your own caramel, you can use store-bought caramel sauce or melt some chewy caramel candies in the microwave.
  • My grandma says that this recipe “should serve 8, but who knows”. Meaning, “who knows, you may eat the whole thing yourself”. If you do, I won’t judge. Neither will grandma.

We Should Let Pears Take Over Thanksgiving

Fun fact about me: Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. I love waking up and watching the parade with a cup of coffee and then doing what I do best: spend the day cooking and baking! Then I get to have all my favorite people come over to eat all of the delicious food with me. After everyone leaves, Claude usually cleans up for me and then drives me through some Christmas lights. It’s a day full of warmth and coziness and I live for that shit.

I’m always looking for new things to add to the table because the same-ol’ same-ol’ gets boring. This year, I decided to examine the dessert lineup and figure out how to shake things up a bit. Quite honestly, I’m tired of pretty much every single Thanksgiving staple pie. Pumpkin? Sweet potato? Pecan? Over them all.

Except apple pie. Apple pie will never not be welcomed into my embrace.

Then I remembered that I had a bag of my grandma’s frozen pears in my freezer. Exactly six cups, too! It was settled – caramel pear pie was going to have a place on my Thanksgiving table. Why should I only enjoy this show-stopper of a pie in August? This baby is a star. A headliner. The Superbowl Halftime Show.

If you think about it for a while, you start to realize that pears are super underappreciated fruits. They’re used in salads often, and I enjoy a pear for a snack with some yogurt. But when Autumn baking rolls around, we tend to beeline right to apples and squashes. The pears stare up at us from the grocery shelf crying, “Hey! Don’t forget about us! We make delicious pies and cakes and tarts!”. But no one ever hears their cries, they’re too busy fawning over apple cider. It’s sad.

So show pears some love this holiday by making this pie! Another fun fact about me: I…might like pear pie just a smidgen more than apple. Don’t freak out! I still adore apple pie. But what can I say? I love a good underdog story. And this little underdog pear pie is just so good.

I love you, pears!

grandmas pear tree 2019
My grandma’s pear tree

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