Surprisingly there are still several varieties of fruit in season in the Gulf Coast region. The season will soon come to a close but we were lucky enough to find peaches, pears, and apples at the farmers market the last couple weekends. The sweet fruit will soon disappear and be replaced with hearty greens, so we gathered up as much fruit as we could.
One vendor had a pile of large, spotted pears on his table last weekend. They seemed hard and tough, but we figured they would ripen over a few days so we bought a whole basket. A little research on the internet revealed that they were Kiefer Pears - firm and crisp, sweetening a bit off the tree. We thought they were the perfect pear to use in baking since a firm fruit will hold its shape. Below are two versions of pear baked goods that are sweet, spicy, and remind us of fall.
Lindsay: The weather has finally started to cool off in New Orleans, so that means I am ready to begin using the oven again. I usually make traditional fall desserts such as crisps and pies, so I decided to make something a little different this go-round. While browsing through some cookbooks I came across David Lebovitz's recipe for Very Spicy Baked Pears. The combination of sweet cinnamon and spicy star anise and pepper tasted warm and inviting and it made the whole house smell wonderful! Enjoy!
Keith: Ever since I met Lindsay, she has been a fan of apple crisp. She makes a recipe, borrowed from her mother, that is light yet satisfying. The recipe calls for very little sugar so it relies on the sweetness of the apples to make it into a dessert. Since we bought a pile of pears at the farmers market, I decided to give Lindsay's recipe a try with pears. The results were just as tasty and the pears held up very well in the oven.
Spicy Baked Pears
Slightly adapted from recipe in Ready for Dessert
15 whole cloves
2 star anise
2 cinnamon sticks
1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
4 firm, recipe medium pears (1.5 pounds/680 grams)
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup (120 grams) packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup dark rum
1/4 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
Place cloves, star anise, cinnamon sticks, and peppercorns in a sturdy plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin.
Peel, quarter, and core the pears. Pour butter into a large and shallow baking dish (use a baking dish that will hold all of the pear pieces in a single layer). Add the pears to the dish along with the crushed spices, brown sugar, and rum. Toss to combine.
Cover the baking dish with foil and bake until the pears are tender (a knife or form should insert easily), 30 to 45 minutes, stirring the pears a couple times during baking.
Once the pears are done baking, use a slotted spoon to transfer the pears to individual plates. Scrape the juices and spices from the baking dish into a skillet. Add cream to the skilley and cook over medium heat until mixture begins to carmalize. Strain the caramel and drizzle over pears and serve warm.
Pears and sauce can be stored in the refrigerator overnight and reheated gently in the microwave when ready to use.
Original recipe from Lindsay's Mom
4 cups peeled, cored, and thinly sliced firm pears
1/2 cup unsweetened apple juice concentrate
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoon sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 Tablespoon sugar
4 Tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel, core and slice pears. Mix together the apple juice concentrate, cinnamon, sugar, and cornstarch (make sure cornstarch is dissolved well). Pour this mixture over the pears and mix thoroughly. Pour pear mixture into a pie plate or other baking dish which has been sprayed with cooking spray.
Mix together topping ingredients - the mixture will be somewhat dry and crumbly (make sure you mix it well to moisten the dry ingredients). Spread topping evenly over the apples. Bake for 45-60 minutes (or until liquid is bubbling).
Remove from oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Serve warm or cold.