happy halloweenie: a jack-o-lantern and sea salted caramel pears.

antonio's jack-o-lantern

testing, testing… 1…2…3… is this thing on?

greetings from siena, italy! halloween here is super duper pathetic even though the italians claim that they have started to participate in the festivities in recent years.  this is false. so marina decided that she wanted to do something fun and festive on her birthday to get into the halloween mood. this halloween adventure yielded some delectable results including buttery roasted pumpkin seeds and some sea salted caramel pears!

pictured above its the very special Jack-O-Lantern that was made from a very expensive little pumpkin that they found in their local COOP supermarket!

marina did all the heavy lifting so to speak.  she cut the top off of the pumpkin, she cleaned out its’ innards (yuck.), she separated the seeds and she left the rest to mr. tony.

he outlined the eyes, nose and mouth with a pen and began making the necessary incisions to create what has turned out to be a pretty darn cute little jack-o.

while tony was making mr. pumpkin head, marina made some very mouth-watering buttery roasted pumpkin seeds.

ingredients:

  • pumpkin seeds (separated from pulp, washed well with cold water and dried)
  • good butter (marina recommends Lurpak or President)
  • sea salt

marina placed the washed and dried seeds into a pan that was on medium heat and dry roasted them for about 10 minutes or just until they start to lightly brown and pop. she then took the pan off the heat, let the seeds cool for a minute and then added a small pad of butter to the pan.  she mixed the seeds and butter just until they were all lightly coated and then transferred them to a plate to cool. sprinkle sea salt over the seeds and enjoy!

then marina made her sea salted caramel pears!

ingredients:

  • 4-6 medium sized  pears
  • sugar
  • butter
  • heavy cream
  • sea salt

*one of the many things that marina and laura have in common is that neither of them measures, they eyeball.  we have found that it results in superior product.

first, marina washed the pears very well, dried them, and placed them near her caramel dipping station (a.k.a. the stove). also near you dipping station, place a piece of waxed paper and sprinkle some sea salt on it.

make sure that your pears are still slightly crunchy!

then, she started to make the caramel! put a mound of sugar (about 1 cup)  in  a pan on medium-high heat. on top of the mound, place two generous pads of butter.

the sugar on the edges of your mound will start to turn a lovely brown color after a few minutes. at this point, you want to direct that part back toward the rest of the sugar mound. eventually it will all start to melt and turn into caramel! keep stirring!

stir, stir, stir!

your butter should be bubbling a little and eventually all of your sugar granules will melt and you will have some very delicious looking caramel.

you have to be focused at this point for two reasons.  the first is that you need to be paying attention to the temperature of your caramel.  move it on and off of the heat to make sure that it doesn’t burn. as soon as it starts to get too sticky and hard to manipulate, move it back to the heat so it loosens up. the second is that you must be very careful when making caramel because it will burn you. badly. sugar melts at a much higher temperature than anything else so take care to make sure that there are no little children around and that you are not doing this after you have enjoyed a few glasses of loo’s mulled vino. marina knows this from personal experience.  while making banana tarte tatin last year there was an incident, and she ended up having to sleep with toothpaste on her finger. be careful.

ok! now you are ready to dip your pears! marina spooned most of the caramel over them because it was more successful than dipping.  carefully place your caramel apple on the wax paper with the sea salt on it, and sprinkle a little sea salt on the pear immediately because your caramel will set very quickly!

yum.

when you caramel has cooled, enjoy your pear!

marina promised laura some pumkin risotto with crispy sage and lemon butter. guess what’s for halloween dinner?

alla prossima!

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