This simple dessert provides a warm, sweet ending to fall or winter meals.
3 ripe but firm pears, halved and cored
1 cinnamon stick and several whole cloves
1 cup raisins
pinch sea salt
1 tablespoon mirin
1 tablespoon kuzu
chopped, toasted walnuts, for garnish (optional)
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Arrange pears in a single layer on the bottom of a medium-sized saucepan. Pour in a mixture of 3 parts apple juice and 1 part water to almost cover the pears. Add the spices, raisins, and salt and simmer, covered, until pears are tender. Remove pears with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Remove the cinnamon and cloves from the liquid, return it to the pan, and cook down to 1 cup. Add mirin. Thoroughly dissolve kuzu in 1 tablespoon cold water and add to cider while stirring briskly. Continue stirring over medium-low heat until kuzu thickens and becomes translucent. Simmer 1 minute more. Immediately serve pears in small bowls with sauce ladled over the top and, if served, a sprinkle of toasted, chopped walnuts.