1. Put oven rack in middle position and preheat the oven to 450°F.
2. Peel and halve the pears, then core with a melon-ball cutter, spoon, or knive, and toss with brown sugar, in a large bowl.
3. Melt the butter in a 3-quart shallow baking dish, in the oven for about one minute, then add the pears, turning to coat with the butter.
4. Add water to the dish and bake pears, turning over occasionally, until tender and edges are caramelized – approximately 30 to 50 minutes, depending on ripeness of pears.
5. Transfer pears with a slotted spoon to a plate, then add ¼ cup of brandy, to the baking dish and stir with a heatproof spatula, to dissolve any caramelized juices.
6. Serve the pears with the sauce from the baking dish.
This one is a breeze to cook, but can be fairly expensive, if you don’t already have the brandy on hand. Fortunately for me, I had it in the larder but recall the small bottle, being around $10 to buy. The pears themselves were $2 for the 3, which was a special offer, so be prepared to pay a little more. The original recipe serves the dish with cream and this is certainly an option; I opted for a Danish vanilla bean ice-cream instead, which offset the pears quite nicely. The dish can be pretty potent, and is best served as a small dessert, using just one half of the pear – this would give you six portions and no heartburn 🙂