Don't be intimidated by making the caramel from scratch. It's actually quite simple, and I've included a tip for perfect caramel in the tutorial.
The first step to making the caramel is to mix together the sugar, sweetened condensed milk and light corn syrup in a pot on the stove. Make sure you have a couple of inches of room in the pot for when it starts to bubble. Heat the pot on medium for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring with a sturdy spatula every 30 seconds or so. Once it starts to bubble, stir it constantly so the caramel doesn't burn.
You can use a candy thermometer to check when your caramel reaches soft ball stage (240 degrees F). If you don't have one, here's the secret to perfect caramel: Once it's nice and golden like the caramel in the photo, it's time to do an ice water test.
Drizzle some caramel into a bowl or glass of ice water.
Once it's completely cool (about 30 seconds), pull out the caramel, and roll it between your fingers. It should form a nice ball. If the caramel cracks and separates in the water, it's not hot enough yet.
Holding your pear by the stem, dip it into the caramel, pulling it out and turning it to dip every side. Hold it up for a minute to let the excess caramel drip away.
Once your pear is dipped, place it onto a buttered, foil-covered baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining pears. I put the pears outside to help them cool quickly while I melted my chocolate.
Put your chocolate chips into a small pot, and heat them on medium heat. Once they start to melt, stir with a spatula until completely melted and smooth.
While your chocolate is melting, you can crush your pecans by putting them into a plastic bag and beating them with a rolling pin.
Dip the bottom half of each caramel-covered pear into the melted chocolate.
Then dip the chocolate-covered pear into the crushed nuts. At this point you can place them at the table on dessert plates. The chocolate will harden as people are arriving and getting ready to eat.
The final step is to make some tags. You can simply cut out leaf shapes from green cardstock, or you can print several green leaves onto white cardstock. Use a marker to write each guest's name on their leaf, and punch a hole into 1 end. Place the hole over the stem of your pear, and put a pear at each place.
Bosc pears work best for this recipe because of their tough skin, elegant shape and superstrong stems. They are also sweet before their flesh has fully softened, so choose very firm pears to work with.
Prep time: 20 minutes | Cook time: 40 minutes | Total time: 1 hour
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