Caramelized Pear Chocolate Shortcake with Caramel Sauce

Yield: 6 servings

Chocolate shortcake:
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter, cut into 6 pieces
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Caramelized pears:
3 large pears
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar

Caramel sauce:
3/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup heavy cream

To prepare chocolate shortcake:

Butter a large baking sheet. Heat oven to 400 F.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together flour, baking powder and sugar. Sift in cocoa powder. Stir well. Cut in butter to form a coarse meal. Add buttermilk and mix well. Dough will be soft. Drop by large spoonfuls on prepared sheet to make six shortcakes. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside to cool.

To prepare caramelized pears:
Wash. peel and core pears. Cut into thin slices. Melt butter and sugar in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add pear slices and cook, stirring occasionally until pears are tender and slightly browned on the edges. Remove from heat.

To prepare caramel sauce:
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in sugar. Increase heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Boil, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for five minutes. Remove from heat and let cool for five minutes. Stir in vanilla and heavy cream. (If mixture thickens before using, heat at medium setting in microwave.)

To assemble:
Cut top third off on each shortcake. Set aside. Place bottom of shortcake on individual serving dish. Fan caramelized pear slices over shortcake. Drizzle caramel sauce over pears and on plate. Place top of shortcake at an angle to highlight pears. Repeat with remaining shortcakes, pears, and caramel sauce.

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