Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt

Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt

I love going out for a big dinner, but there’s something extra comforting and cozy about setting the table, lighting a few candles, and enjoying a meal in your own home. My husband and I try to have a "date-night-in" periodically. They can be a little easier to pull off when the budget or babysitting logistics add an extra challenge to going out. Or, let's be honest...sometimes I just want to eat dinner in my sweatpants (romantic, right?). 

There are challenges to staying in, though. For our annual Christmas date-night-in, my daughter decided it was a good night to stay awake in her crib crying, so she ended up joining us for dinner. Not quite what we had in mind, but fortunately that doesn't happen most of the time (and she was quite happy when she realized she won the bedtime battle, so it was kind of cute having her sitting with us.)

Sometimes we order out from a favorite restaurant, other days we cook a special meal outside our normal dinner rotation, or we combine a bit of both - like takeout for dinner and then a homemade dessert.

This recipe for Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt is the perfect addition to any date-night-in menu. It’s warm, sweet, and irresistibly decadent. Add toasted hazelnuts for a bit of crunch and finish the dish with a hint of smoked salt. It’s a combination of flavors worthy of any special occasion. 

Are you a fan of doing date nights in? Do you have any favorite date-night-in recipes? I'd love to hear in the comments below!

Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt-8.jpg
Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt

Roasted Pears with Buttery Chocolate Sauce + Smoked Sea Salt
Yields 4 servings

Roasted Pears
2 pears (I recommend using Bosc or Anjou pears)
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons turbinado or brown sugar
⅓ cup raw hazelnuts
Pinch of smoked sea salt*

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut the pears in half and scoop out the seeds. Place them cut side up on a baking sheet. (Line the sheet with foil or parchment for easy clean up.)

 Brush the cut side of the pears with the melted butter, and sprinkle the sugar evenly over the buttered side of the pears (about ½ a teaspoon of sugar per pear half).

 Roast for about 30 minutes, or until the pears are slightly browned.

 While the pears are roasting, make the chocolate sauce (see recipe below), and toast the hazelnuts. To toast the hazelnuts, add them to a small pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Stir or shake frequently for about 5-7 minutes, until the nuts are fragrant and slightly browned. Remove from heat and let the nuts cool enough to handle. If you like, you can rub the skins off the hazelnuts with a dish towel (I personally don’t mind leaving a bit of the skins on). Roughly chop the nuts and set aside until the pears are ready.

When the pears have finished roasting, transfer them to individual plates and drizzle with the chocolate sauce. Top with the chopped, toasted hazelnuts and a pinch of smoked sea salt. Serve with vanilla bean ice cream, if desired. Enjoy!

 *You can substitute regular sea salt, but the flavor of smoked sea salt definitely takes this dessert up a notch.

Buttery Chocolate Sauce
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped (or use chocolate chips)
3 Tablespoons heavy cream
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
Pinch of salt

Add the chocolate, cream, butter, and salt to a small saucepan. Heat very gently over low heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolate and butter are melted and the ingredients are fully mixed. Remove from heat and set aside until you’re ready to use.

Note: This sauce is meant to be served very warm. If you make it in advance and the sauce cools completely, the chocolate and butter will separate and harden. You’ll just need to rewarm it before serving.

This recipe was originally featured at Lark + Linen.

Mix + Match Shortbread

Over the last couple years, shortbread has become one of my favorite cookies to make. It only takes a few ingredients to create a crunchy, buttery, sweet cookie that’s perfect alongside a freshly brewed cup of tea or coffee. Simple, but delicious.

The best thing about shortbread, at least in my opinion, is that it’s the perfect blank canvas for showcasing a variety of flavor combinations. You can add nearly anything to the dough, like fruit, nuts, spices or herbs, without having to change the entire base recipe. It’s ideal for mixing and matching with whatever sounds good to you!

In the recipe below, I’m sharing how to make basic shortbread and then instructions for three different variations: cranberries with thyme, cinnamon with bourbon soaked dates and dark chocolate with smoked sea salt. The possibilities are endless, though, so use the base recipe to come up with your own creative versions!

Basic Shortbread
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
Basic recipe from Ina Garten

3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

Using a mixer with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until combined. Mix in the vanilla along with two teaspoons of water.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low, slowly pour the flour mixture into the butter mixture. Mix until ingredients are fully incorporated.

Place the dough on a floured surface and form into a log shape. Wrap the log in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Unwrap the dough and slice it into about ½ inch slices. Place cookies on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until the edges of the cookies turn golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on a wire rack. Serve and enjoy!

Cranberry + Thyme Shortbread

2-3 teaspoons dried thyme (or you can use chopped fresh thyme)
1 cup chopped fresh cranberries
Turbinado sugar (or other coarse sugar)

Follow the basic shortbread recipe above. Stir the thyme and cranberries into the dough. 

Before baking the cookies, sprinkle each one with a bit of turbinado sugar. The sweetness of the sugar complements the tart cranberries. Bake as directed above.

Cinnamon Shortbread with Bourbon Soaked Dates

1 cup chopped Medjool dates
¼ cup bourbon
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Add the dates to a small bowl. Pour the bourbon over the dates to soak them. Set aside and continue making the basic recipe, mixing in 1 teaspoon of cinnamon into the dough.

Strain the bourbon out of the dates. Stir the bourbon soaked dates into the shortbread. Bake as directed above.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Shortbread with Smoked Sea Salt

6 ounces dark chocolate
Smoked sea salt

Bake the basic shortbread recipe as directed and allow the cookies to cool.

While the cookies are cooling, melt the chocolate over a double boiler or in 20-second intervals in the microwave, stirring frequently. Dip the cooled shortbread cookies into the chocolate and then lay them out on parchment paper.

Before the chocolate completely cools and hardens, sprinkle it with a little smoked sea salt. Allow the chocolate to harden completely before serving. (You can place the cookies in the refrigerator to speed up this process.)