These individual baked pears with homemade dulce de leche are a simple, elegant way to end a festive meal.
The Bosc pears are poached until tender in a sweet syrup that’s fragrant with cinnamon, ginger, clove, lemon, and black pepper.
Then, they’re swaddled in strips of buttery pie crust, washed in egg, and baked until golden brown.
To serve, nestle on a bed of homemade dulce de leche.
The whole thing is ridiculously delicious.
The best part?
They make an impressive impression–and they’re so, so, so simple to make.
I’ll take you through the step-by-step photo recipe below.
You’ll also find a printable recipe card at the end of this post.
It’s just such a delightful thing to give each of your guests their own, individual baked dessert.
What kind of pears are best to bake?
For this recipe, I call for Bosc pears.
They’re firm fleshed, and keep their shape and texture well once cooked.
You could also use Anjou pears, though they’re softer in general, so your finished baked pear might be kind of mushy.
Whatever pear you use, be sure to pick ones with a nice looking stem that’s firmly attached, since it’s part of the presentation!
I’d wager you could also use apples for this, though they might be slightly more difficult to wrap in the pastry (because they’re round not oblong).
This is a 15-minute dulce de leche recipe
It’s more traditional, in that it’s a combination of milk and sugar that you cook low and slow for about 3 hours. It’s a good one if you have time.
If you want a fast and easy dulce de leche, you can make the one in this recipe in just about 15 minutes.
It’s more of a caramel sauce infused with condensed milk instead of a true dulce de leche.
But it’s still so, so delicious.
We were spreading the leftovers on cookies and French toast for a few days after.
Homemade pie crust vs. store bought
Honestly, I used store-bought crust for these individual baked pears in the interest of time. It’s fast and easy, and is already pre-rolled to the perfect thickness.
Get the kind that comes rolled up in a box. Here in the US, it’s usually in the dairy section of the grocery story by the eggs and milk.
But by all means, if you have the juice, make your own crust!
Here’s my homemade pie crust recipe. It’s an old-school 1950’s recipe straight out of my heirloom Betty Crocker.
The peanut gallery approved
In case you were wondering, these pies also got the double-paw stamp of approval from our wolves.
(That’s baby Grizwald with his sniffer in the air.)
Scale this recipe up or down
This recipe serves 4, but it’s easy to scale it up or down to suit your guests.
You’ll find a printable recipe card at the end of this post.
How to reheat your individual baked pears
These pies reheat well. Just pop them in the oven until warm.
(Keep the pies separate from the dulce de leche, and sauce them right before serving.)
Alright, enough yapping. To the ovens!
Individual Baked Pears with Dulce De Leche
For the pear pies
2 quarts water
1 cup sugar
1 medium-size lemon
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 bosc pears
2 sheets boxed, frozen pie-crust
1 egg, beaten
For the dulce de leche
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup whole milk, warm
14 oz-can sweetened condensed milk
Prep your pears
Grab your pears. Skin them with a veggie peeler or a sharp paring knife.
Set them aside while you prep the poaching liquid.
Make the poaching liquid
Put the water and sugar into a medium-sized pot.
Squeeze in the lemon, then toss both halves into the pot.
Add the cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper.
Give it a quick stir with a fork or a whisk.
Bring the liquid up to a boil over high heat.
When it’s boiling, knock the heat down a little so that it still holds a good bubbling simmer.
Poach your pears
Holding each pear gently by the stem, lower slowly into your pot.
(You could also put it on a big spoon and put it in the pot that way.)
Simmer your whole pears uncovered for about 20 minutes, or until they are fork tender.
Literally poke a fork deep into each pear to ensure it’s tender.
(Don’t worry about fork holes, you won’t really see the pear beneath the pastry.)
When they’re done, fish them out of the poaching liquid with tongs or a big slotted spoon.
Set them in a dish to cool.
Make the dulce de leche
While you’re waiting for the pears to cool, make your dulce de leche.
Quick warning if you’ve never made any kind of caramel before:
Hot sugar is like napalm. It can give you a magnificent burn in a split second, so go slow and be careful. 🙂
Put the sugar in a medium-sized pot.
Set it on the stove over low heat, stirring frequently once it starts to melt. (You don’t want it to burn.)
It will take a few minutes, but the sugar will completely liquify.
Add the butter one Tablespoon at a time, stirring all the while.
As you stir, the mixture will start to bubble up. Keep stirring. Knock the heat a little lower if it starts to too hard to control to you.
You’ll see the caramel start to come together as you stir:
Drizzle in the cream, stirring as you go.
BE SURE that your cream is at room temperature.
If it’s cold straight from the fridge, it will make the mixture seize
(i.e. you’ll wind up with a big unwieldy clump of hardened caramel, and it will take you a while to liquify it again…and there will likely still be hard bits in there.)
Next, add the condensed milk. Stir until uniform.
Raise the heat a little to medium high, and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.
Boil, stirring constantly, for 3-5 minutes, or until it’s nice and thick.
I had my heat a wee bit too high at one point, and wound up with a few hard bits in mine.
So, while not perfect, it was absolutely delicious.
You want it to be able to coat the back of a spoon thickly.
Pour your homemade dulce de leche into a bowl and set aside while you deal with the pears.
Core the pears
Once your pears are cool, you want to core them from the bottom to remove any seeds and fibrous material.
Using a small spoon, grapefruit spoon, or melon baller, cut the core out of the pear from the bottom and discard.
This doesn’t have to be precision surgery. This entire business will be hidden beneath the pastry.
Just get the seeds and chewy core out.
Core all 4 pears like this.
Wrap the pears in pastry strips
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Spray a small baking dish with oil or rub with butter to grease it.
Grab your pastry. Slice the roll into strips, like this. (Mine were about 3/4 inch wide, but don’t make yourself crazy.)
Unroll one strip and wrap it around a pear, starting at the top.
Repeat with another strip of pastry until you’ve wrapped the whole pear.
If your pear won’t sit up straight, wrap the pastry at the bottom so that it creates a good, solid base and keeps the pear upright.
Set them in your greased baking dish.
Brush each pear with a little beaten egg to make a nice glossy coating.
Bake your pears
Pop the pan into your pre-heated 350-degree F oven.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. (Remember, the pear is already cooked.)
When they’re done, yank the pan out of the oven and place on a rack.
Serve and enjoy!
Serve on a puddle of dulce de leche.
A scoop of good French vanilla ice cream would be a great addition.