I thought of pears, for a long time, as the worst part of fruit cocktail, except perhaps the maraschino cherry. As far as I was concerned, they were tasteless, gritty, misshapen apples, and not worth my time. Eating underripe pears only confirmed my beliefs, and it wasn't until a couple of years ago that I finally bit into a somewhat post-ripe, juicy, soft red pear and fell in love.
I also have to say - I think pears are sexy. A pear just on the wrong side of ripeness and incredibly fragrant and juicy can't not remind you of soft, curvy female flesh.
This recipe comes from the 2006 November Cooking Light, and embodies everything I love about fall cooking. You can find the Cooking Light recipe here, but epicurious has a richer version that I'm sure is to die for. I followed the CL recipe to the letter for the pictured cake (which I enjoyed tonight with my husband), though I'd recommend doubling the amount of cardamom caramel, since what I made didn't quite cover the area I'd have liked it to. What came out was a not-too-sweet cake (think coffee cake) with a spicy-fruity aroma whose intensity surprised me when I flipped over and removed the cake pan. Vanilla ice cream would be a nice with this cake served warm, but I'm sure that allowing it to soak up a few tablespoons of cream would be just as delicious, if you're not in the mood for something quite as sweet.