Considered “the Gift of the Gods” by the epic poet Homer, pears are cousin to both the apple and the rose – a noble pedigree indeed! With their buttery flesh and delicate, slightly floral flavor, they are wonderful eaten right out of the hand – perhaps with a bit of Stilton or Roquefort cheese?
Pears can be used as substitutes for apples in many dishes, but you may want to tweak the seasoning – perhaps reduce the cinnamon and add a touch of nutmeg or cardamom or even lavender instead? They are lovely in a salad of greens with a handful of walnuts and a touch of goat cheese, dressed in a balsamic vinaigrette. Or sautéed with pork chops and sage. And pears lend an elegant touch to many desserts!
This dessert can be elegant, with a cloud of Chantilly Cream drifted around the pears. Or it can be down-home cozy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
3 firm pears: peeled, cored and sliced thickly
1/3 cup Poire William (unsweetened pear juice or apple cider may be substituted)
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Arrange the pear slices in an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish. In a saucepan, stir together the Poire William, sugar and cardamom over medium-high heat until the sugar dissolves.
Stir in the butter until thoroughly melted and then carefully pour this sauce over the pears. Bake about 30 minutes, until the pears are tender and just start to brown.
Spoon the pears and their sauce into dessert dishes. Serve with Chantilly Cream or a generous scoop of vanilla ice cream.
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 Tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbs sugar
Combine all ingredients in a chilled bowl. Whip with a whisk (or with the whisk attachment of an electric beater) until soft peaks form.
Salty caramel sauce is a French confectionary favorite – and pairs beautifully with the subtly sweet baked pears.
Baked Pears with Salty Caramel Sauce
4 ripe pears, preferably Bosc, with stems, washed and dried
2 cups pear or apple juice (Calvados can be substituted)
1/4 cup honey
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each pear (so they will stand), and arrange the pears standing upright in a glass or ceramic baking dish.
Shake the juice, honey and nutmeg together in a jar until well blended, then pour over the pears.
Bake the pears about 45-60 minutes, basting every 15 minutes or so, until they are tender.
Carefully place the pears in shallow dessert bowls. Pour the “sauce” into a small saucepan and boil to until thickened. Spoon this around the base of the pears. Drizzle Sticky Caramel Sauce over the pears and serve.
Salty Caramel Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbs water
4 tablespoons salted butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Put the water and sugar in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over high heat and bring to a boil, stirring at the beginning to make sure the sugar doesn’t stick to the bottom. Stop stirring and let the syrup cook for 10-12 minutes until sugar caramelizes and turns a lovely amber color.
Gently stir in the butter until it melts, then add the cream and salt.
This can be refrigerated in a closed jar.
Warm sautéed pears with a touch of chocolate – like a warm hug on a chilly day!
Sautéed Pears with Bittersweet Chocolate
3-4 firm pears: peeled, cored and sliced thickly
4 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs honey (brown sugar may be substituted)
2 Tbs spiced rum (unsweetened pear juice or apple cider may be substituted, but increase spices to taste)
Pinch freshly ground nutmeg
Preheat a heavy cast iron skillet over a medium flame. Melt 2 Tbs of the butter and add the pear slices. Saute until lightly browned, then add the rest of the butter and flip the slices over. Drizzle the honey and spices over the slices, and continue sautéing until the pear slices are tender and lightly browned on both sides.
Carefully spoon the pears and their sauce into dessert bowls. Drizzle melted bittersweet chocolate over the pears and serve.
A classic quick bread, this pear loaf is a wonderful accompaniment to the tea table. It can be dressed up with a simple dusting of powdered sugar.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 Tsp baking powder
1/2 Tsp salt
1/2 Tbs ground cinnamon
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter, softened,
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cup grated pears
1 Tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease and flour a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
Combine the dry ingredients (the first five in the list) into a large bowl, stirring to mix well.
In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and mix well. Fold this pear mixture into the dry ingredients and stir just until the batter is evenly moistened.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake at 350°F for 60 to 70 minutes, or until the loaf is browned and a wooden skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool the bread in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, and then turn the loaf out of the pan to continue cooling on the rack.
This luscious and lightly spiced spread is similar in to apple butter, but a touch more elegant.
Pear Butter (Yield 6 half pint jars)
5 pounds Bartlett pears: peeled, cored and coarsely chopped
1-2 cups lemon juice (fresh is best)
3-4 cups sugar
1 Tsp freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch ground cardamom
Tsp of freshly grated lemon zest
Combine pears and 1 cup of the lemon juice in a large, heavy bottomed kettle or saucepan. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until pears are soft – about 25-40 minutes. If the mixture looks a bit dry or the pears threaten to scorch, add a bit more lemon juice. When the pears are soft, mash well or puree in a blender in small batches no more than 1/2 filling the pitcher at a time. If you use a blender, be careful not to liquefy the pears!
Measure the puree – for every cup of puree you will add 1/2 cup of sugar. Return the puree to the kettle and add the remaining ingredients. Stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. Taste and adjust the spices to your taste.
Increase heat to medium and simmer gently about 50 minutes – stirring frequently – until the pear mixture thickens and mounds slightly on spoon.
Carefully ladle the hot butter into hot, prepared canning jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace. Wipe the jar rim well, using a towel dipped in hot water. Center the lids onto the jars and seal the bands “finger tight”, as per FreshPreserving.
Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Carefully remove jars and place them on a clean tea towel (and out of drafts) to cool. Check the lids for a proper seal AFTER 24 hours (checking sooner may damage the seal). If a lid pops up, store that jar in the refrigerator and use first.
Store in cool dry place up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.