By Health Editor
March 05, 2008

Chef Elizabeth Falkner is the chef-owner of San Francisco gems Citizen Cake and Citizen Cupcake, and her latest venture, Orson, is opening this month. Demolition Desserts (Ten Speed Press; $35), her first book, also comes out this month. Her unconventional style often combines sweet with a touch of savory, as in this delicious recipe.

If you’d like to try Demerara sugar (a type of raw sugar) instead of the regular option, look for it in the baking section of your grocery store or specialty-food market.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 28 minutes
Makes 8 servings

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons Demerara sugar or regular unbleached sugar
4 sliced peeled pears (Comice, Bosc, or D’Anjou)
2 ounces brandy (preferably pear brandy)
2 tablespoons dried currants, soaked in the brandy to plump
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1. Combine 2 tablespoons butter and Demerara sugar in a large sauté pan on high heat until bubbly. Turn off the heat, add the pear slices, plumped currants with brandy, and lemon juice. Turn heat back on and heat up again to flambé. (Be careful—make sure you’re not wearing long sleeves.) Reduce heat after flame dies down and simmer pears 10 minutes or until tender.

2. Combine dry ingredients (sugar through black pepper) in a bowl and work in remaining 4 tablespoons butter, lemon zest, vanilla, and rosemary with a pastry blender (or two butter knives) until mixture reaches crumb consistency. Add the walnuts.

3. Toss mixture onto a parchment paper–lined baking sheet and bake at 350º for 10 minutes, rake with a wooden spoon, and bake for another 8-10 minutes. Cool completely.

4. Divide sautéed pears and sauce among 8 plates or bowls. Add 2 tablespoons streusel on top of each dessert. Serve immediately with vanilla low-fat ice cream, if desired. (Serving size: 1/2 cup pears, 2 tablespoons streusel)

Calories 262 (44% from fat); Fat 13g (sat 6g, mono 3g, poly 4g); Cholesterol 23mg; Protein 2g; Carbohydrate 32g; Sugars 21g; Fiber 3g; Iron 1mg; Sodium 148mg; Calcium 20mg
Back to: Amazing (Light) Sweets From Top Chefs

By Frances A. Largeman-Roth, RD