Makes 8 servings

EndTextStartText

For the pears:

4 firm, ripe Bosc pears

1/4 cup Dad's Hat rye whiskey (or other)

2 tablespoons maple syrup

3 tablespoons water

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 cinnamon stick

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

2 tablespoons sugar

For the crémeux:

Few sprigs fresh thyme

1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

1 teaspoon butter

7 ounces heavy cream

7 ounces milk

4 egg yolks

4 tablespoons sugar

9 ounces 80 percent chocolate, melted over a double boiler

1/4 cup Dad's Hat rye whiskey (or other)

EndTextStartText

1. To make the pears: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Peel the pears, slice them in half lengthwise, and remove their cores with a melon baller.

2. Combine the seeds from the vanilla bean with the sugar and a pinch of salt.

3. Coat the pears with the vanilla sugar and place cut side down in a baking dish or an 8-inch cake pan that has been coated with soft butter.

4. Pour the whiskey, maple syrup, water, vanilla pod and cinnamon stick over the pears. Dot with butter.

5. Bake until knife-tender, basting every 10 minutes or so. If the liquid starts to evaporate too much, add water one tablespoon at a time.

6. For the cremeux: In a saucepan, melt the butter and add the thyme and vanilla and cook until aromatic. Add the cream, milk, sugar, and yolks. Cook to 170 degrees, stirring constantly.

7. Strain and pour over the chocolate and leave to sit for a minute. Mix until combined and shiny, then add the whiskey.

8. Pour into a shallow pan and refrigerate until set, or divide among 8 dessert cups and allow to set in the refrigerator.

9. Once the chocolate crémeux is set (can be made 3 days in advance), place half a pear on top and drizzle some of the syrup and juices from the baking pan over the pears.

10. Top with toasted almonds or hazelnuts. Serve with a Dad's Hat rye whiskey, neat or on the rocks.

- From R2L pastry chef Peter Scarola

Per serving: 493 calories, 6 grams protein, 22 grams carbohydrates, 40 grams sugar, 28 grams fat, 165 milligrams cholesterol, 96 milligrams sodium, 4 grams dietary fiber.

EndText