Citrus Caramel Roasted Apples and Pears

When you reach to pull this dish out of the oven, dark brown juices bubbling and thick around softened, caramelized fruit, prepare yourself:

What you will smell will be as good as crisp, cold air in the fall cut with the musty crunch of leaves beneath your feet, or fresh pine needles in December.

Vertical closeup image of a square white plate with an orange pattern, with roasted apples and pears coated in a caramel sauce and topped with vanilla ice cream, with another plate of the dessert in the background on a white cloth, printed with orange and white text.

After you let it cool for a bit, and you scoop some into a bowl, pouring that still-warm, coppery sauce all over, faint hints of steam escaping as you blow on a spoonful heading towards your lips, even that will still be topped by the unbelievable taste to come.

Vertical overhead image of a square white ceramic plate with an orange pattern, filled with halved roasted apples and pears topped with vanilla ice cream, on a white folded and gathered cloth on top of a gray speckled surface, with scattered whole cloves and cinnamon sticks.

It’s a sensation at once devastatingly sweet and slightly tart, with a subtle touch of lemon cutting through a deep, dark sugar glaze.

This homemade dessert is pure decadence. And by that, I mean it is the shining moment of the meal, the happy climax.

Vertical overhead image of two square white plates of roasted halved pears and apples with caramel sauce, topped with scoops of vanilla ice cream, on a white folded and gathered cloth on top of a gray surface with light and dark speckles, with scattered cinnamon sticks and whole cloves.

Similar to baked apples, these roasted seasonal pome fruits are both simple and satisfying. The addition of the lemon and cinnamon sticks is a nod to the spiced cider common at this time of year, and when combined with the caramel sauce, oh baby! This easy dessert is knock-your-socks-off good.

Try it on its own, warm out of the oven, or with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. Eat it slowly, and enjoy every bite.

Vertical image of two plates, one centered in the foreground and another in soft focus in the background, of roasted fruit with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream, on a white cloth with scattered whole cinnamon sticks and cloves, on a gray surface.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about shining moments, and how they change as we grow older.

The joy and rapture I once felt on the first day of summer vacation has gradually given way to the deep peace and satisfaction that I experience now, sitting around a table with passionate people that I just met for the first time, but with whom I’ve found that instant connection that I recognize as the sign of a lasting friendship to come.

I know my ability to appreciate these shining moments would not be possible without the lack of them, that if life were all caramelized pears and apples, with no burned bok choy or crispy cookies in between, that it would be harder to see the goodness in them.

Vertical overhead image of a forkful of roasted fruit being held up above a square white ceramic plate of more of the dessert, with brown caramel sauce and pears, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, with another plate of the same dish in the background, on a white cloth on top of a brown surface, with scattered whole cloves and cinnamon sticks.

These are some of the sweetest things there are in life – the shining moments – and they are worth savoring.

We can’t have them all the time, or we’d lose sight of how delicious and precious they are. But when apples and pears are in season, when you have something to celebrate and it’s time to make a special meal, when it’s been a while and you need a break to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures in life, those are the times when I think maybe this is what all of those other moments have been leading up to.

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Horizontal image of a plate of roasted halved apples and pears with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream, on a square ceramic plate with an orange pattern, on a white cloth on top of a blue-gray surface, with a few scattered whole cloves and a cinnamon stick.

Citrus Caramel Roasted Apples and Pears


  • Author: Meghan Yager
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: 6 servings 1x

Description

With the perfect balance of sweetness and spice, these simple citrus caramel roasted apples and pears are sure to please. Best served warm with ice cream.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 3 firm Bosc pears, cored and halved
  • 3 Fuji or McIntosh apples, cored and halved
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened (12 tablespoons)
  • 1 1/2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon flaked sea salt
  • Zest of one lemon (about 1 tbsp)
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 1 tbsp)
  • 3 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks

Instructions

  1. Adjust oven rack to center and preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Add butter to a large baking dish, one that is large enough to fit all the pear and apple halves, while the oven is heating.
  3. Once the butter is melted, remove from the oven. Top with sugar, ground cinnamon, sea salt, and lemon zest. Whisk the mixture to combine.
  4. Add fruit cut side down on top of the sugar-butter mixture and drizzle with lemon juice.
  5. Add cinnamon sticks and cloves to the sauce in the pan.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, until the caramel sauce has deepened in color, thickened, and is bubbling.
  7. Remove cinnamon sticks and cloves, and discard. Remove pan from the oven and turn fruit to coat with the sauce.
  8. Let cool slightly before serving. Slice the fruit, if you like, so everyone can enjoy both apples and pears. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream on top.

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking, Roasting
  • Cuisine: Fall

Keywords: apple, pear, caramel, citrus, cinnamon, cloves

Cooking By the Numbers…

Step 1 – Preheat the Oven and Prepare the Fruit

Measure out all of your ingredients, according to the ingredients list.

Horizontal overhead image of four round and one square small glass bowl or brown sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, salt, lemon zest, butter, whole cinnamon sticks and cloves, with three whole red apples and three whole brown pears, on a sponge painted blue-gray surface.

Adjust your oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 375°F.

With a sharp knife, cut the pears and apples in half lengthwise.

Remove the hard cores and seeds by cutting a teardrop shape in the pear halves, and a circle-shaped well in the center of the apples. A melon baller can come in handy for this.

Step 2 – Melt Butter

Add the butter to a large baking pan. The baking pan should be large enough to fit all of the fruit halves.

I used a metal baking pan that was 9-by-13 inches. But you can also use glass or a ceramic baking dish, if that’s what you have handy. Keep in mind that the caramel may brown at a slightly different rate if you cook with a different type of pan, so keep an eye on your dish when it’s in the oven.

Horizontal overhead image of melted butter in a rectangular metal baking pan, on a blue-gray sponge painted background.

Place the baking pan in the oven while it is heating. Remove the pan from oven once the butter has melted, about 1-2 minutes.

Set a timer, keep an eye on the butter while you do this, and don’t forget about it! For this recipe, you don’t want the butter to brown or burn, and this can happen quickly in a hot oven.

Step 3 – Make the Sauce

Add the brown sugar, ground cinnamon, sea salt, and lemon zest.

Horizontal overhead image of a brown citrus sauce in a rectangular metal baking pan, on a blue-gray speckled background.

Whisk briefly to combine.

Step 4 – Assemble

Overhead horizontal image of three halved apples and three halved pears arranged cut side down in a rectangular metal baking pan, surrounded by a brown liquid, on a gray surface.

Arrange the fruit in the baking dish cut-side down on top of the sugar-butter mixture. Drizzle with lemon juice.

Horizontal overhead image of halved apples and pears arranged cut side down in a metal baking pan with whole cinnamon sticks and cloves in a brown liquid, on a gray speckled background.

Add cinnamon sticks and cloves to the pan.

Step 5 – Roast

Bake for 30 minutes. The caramel sauce should be thick and bubbling, and you should be able to pierce the fruit easily with a paring knife.

Horizontal overhead image of golden brown roasted halved pears and apples arranged in a rectangular metal baking pan cut side down, surrounded by a brown caramel sauce with whole warming spices, on a gray background.

Remove cinnamon sticks and cloves, and discard them. Turn the fruit in the pan to coat it with the sauce. You can also use a pastry brush to baste the fruit if you prefer.

Let cool slightly before serving. If you like, you can also slice up the fruit and give it one final gentle toss with the sauce before plating.

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Something to Be Savored

This recipe is proof that all you need are a few simple ingredients to make a fantastic dessert.

Not overly sweet, perfectly balanced, and excellent all year round, this recipe will never steer you wrong. I find it’s particularly perfect when you need a simple delight to look forward to at the end of a long day, when it’s cold outside.

The hints of cinnamon along with the sweet notes of caramel truly are the stars.

Horizontal image of a plate of roasted halved apples and pears with caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream, on a square ceramic plate with an orange pattern, on a white cloth on top of a blue-gray surface, with a few scattered whole cloves and a cinnamon stick.

Did you like this roasted fruit recipe? Give these other recipes that are perfect for fall a shot next!

What sweet moments in life do you savor the most? When will you serve this dessert to family and friends? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to leave a rating after you’ve tried it, so other readers will know how much you enjoyed it.

Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published on December 18, 2009. Last updated: November 6, 2019 at 18:44 pm. With additional writing and editing by Allison Sidhu, Meghan Yager, and Blaire Wikoff.

Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.

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About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

14 thoughts on “Citrus Caramel Roasted Apples and Pears”

  1. It often surprises me to no end how the simplest of recipes, those with uncomplicated lists and instructions can have an end result that is so amazing and joyful. Cold winter nights need something like this; warmth, comfort and ease. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Is this good re-heated? I’m thinking about just halving the recipe if it’s only good fresh out of the oven…but somehow I think it would be good cold too. Or microwaved. Or anytime at all.

  3. Hey Shannalee! Thanks for stopping by my blog! Yup, I’m in Orland Park! 🙂 Good luck with the New Year’s resolution and I’m glad I could help w/ some healthy recipes! 😉

  4. love how you see the beauty in everything, and that you can share it so beautifully here. and that recipe! so simple, it has to be delicious!

  5. oh my, shannalee, i was not at all hungry until i read this and i literally felt my tummy say yes please! now is good!
    wishing you a beautiful day ~
    emily.

  6. Kate, I know! Simple is definitely the way to go, and with results like these you won’t even believe it’s so easy, you know?

    Thanks, Anne! The Kitchn is great. Loved the look of your strata!

    Kim, Yes! I reheated some the next day (the pan juices solidify a little like a gravy would, but they liquify once heated).

    Christina, Thanks again!

    Hannah, You’re so sweet. Thank you!

    Jacqui, Thanks so much! Yes, simple! That’s all I feel like lately!

    Emily, Ha! I know exactly how you feel.

  7. What a lovely post, Shannalee! It’s so true how those shining moments and our priorities change with age and life experience…and just plain ol’ perspective. These apples & pears look awesome, too. Mmm, brown sugar. Have a great weekend!

  8. Thank you, Megan! I had a professor who used to say, Your perspective (or perception?) becomes your reality. I think about that a lot when I am only seeing things from my own perspective, you know? Such a big world out there, filled with so many points of views, and it’s crazy that just one person can have so many different ones. Anyway…

    Jessica, Thank you! And this is as easy as it gets, I kid you not. That’s the way I like things, too!

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