Pear, Blue Cheese, and Caramelized Onion Focaccia

I actually made this focaccia for a dinner party several weeks ago, but of course am just getting around to posting it now. It makes a great fall appetizer, and I love the contrast between the salty blue cheese and the sweetness of the caramelized onions and pears. If you are feeling indulgent, it would make a lovely first course for Thanksgiving dinner. I chose not to core the pears because I like the rustic look of it, but you can of course core them and then slice them.  This would also be great toasted with a  little prosciutto the next day.

Pear, Blue Cheese and Caramelized Onion Focaccia (adapted from Food & Wine)

1 cup warm water

1 package active dry yeast

1/2 teaspoon honey

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 large onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon maple syrup

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 Bosc pears, very thinly sliced

1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese

2 oz diced walnuts, lightly toasted

In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast and honey and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup of the flour and 1/4 cup of the oil; let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the remaining flour and the salt and knead until smooth. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic and let stand for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, in a skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add the onion, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally until very soft and beginning to caramelize, for 30 minutes. Add the maple syrup and balsamic vinegar, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450°. Oil a 9-by-13 inch rimmed baking sheet. Transfer the dough to the sheet and press it down to fit. Dimple the dough all over with your fingers and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Let the dough rise until puffed, about 20 minutes.

Scatter the onions over the dough. Arrange the pear over the onions and sprinkle with the blue cheese and walnuts. Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over the focaccia and bake for 20 minutes, until golden. Transfer to a rack to cool. Serve.