Chocolate Pear Hand Pies

I had heard rumblings about the glory of pairing pears and chocolate in pie. I mean, they’re both two delicious things, so how could it not be amazing?

I also loved how portable these hand pies are. They’re so easy to just hold in your hand and completely devour in five seconds while watching Netflix with bae (or by yourself…any situation really).

Some ingredient notes: I used a combination of Bartlett and Bosc pears. For chocolate, I used semi-sweet chocolate chips, but if you have some REALLY good chocolate laying around (like some Valrhona discs…) you should totally go for it.

TREAT YO-SELF!

Ingredients:

Crust (crust recipe adapted from Four and Twenty Blackbirds)

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup butter (straight from the fridge, cut into 1-inch pieces)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar (I use cider vinegar, mix it in the water)

Filling 

  • 1/4 cup cream
  • 4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 4 cups peeled, cored and diced Bartlett or Bosc pears (this should be a relatively fine dice, see pictures below)
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cups packed brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Pinch of allspice
  • Pinch of cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

To make the crust, mix together flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender, “cut” in the butter. This means you’re almost mashing the butter into the flour with the blender, ensuring all butter is covered in flour until the butter pieces are about the size of peas or a bit bigger.

Then, splash in a bit of your water mixture (2-3 tablespoons) and mix it around with your hand. Continue to add a little at a time and mix and squish with your hand until a large dough ball forms. If you need to get a bit more binding, add a bit of water to your fingers to help it along. Don’t feel compelled to use all the water, mix it in until just combined and the dough is holding together. Cut the dough ball into two halves and flatten into disks. Wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Meanwhile, make chocolate ganache. In the microwave or on a stovetop, bring cream to an almost boil and pour over chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Let sit for a minute, then whisk together until smooth. Set aside.

Remove dough disks from fridge and let sit for 5-10 minutes so the dough doesn’t crack. Roll out each disk on a floured surface circle about 12-13 inches in diameter. Use a heart cookie cutter to cut out dough hearts and refrigerate on a parchment-lined baking sheet while making the filling.

In a large bowl, toss together diced pears, lemon juice and granulated sugar with your hands and let the mixture sit for 20 minutes. In another bowl, mix together brown sugar, flour, spices and vanilla. Drain excess moisture from pear mixture and sprinkle sugar mixture on top. Toss with your hands until pears are evenly coated.

To assemble the hand pies, take one heart and spread a thin layer of ganache onto the middle of the dough. Spoon about 1 tbsp of filling on top of the ganache, like below.

Place a second dough heart on top of the pear layer, sealing the edges of the dough together with the tines of a fork.

Repeat with remaining dough hearts and refrigerate assembled pies on a parchment lined baking sheet for 10 minutes.

Brush the tops of the hand pies with egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake at 400F for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

Recipe and photography by Ellie Hannaford of Pie Girl Bakes.

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

Make sure to follow USA Pears on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for all things pears!

Keep Love In The Air With Chocolate and Pears

Love is in the air and few things are as enticing as the passionate relationship between chocolate and pears. These two foods may come from opposite worlds but when they meet, the chemistry is unmistakable and downright charming. The possibilities are truly endless with these two simple ingredients, and you don’t need to be a gourmet chef to pull off something delicious and creative. We can’t prove it, but we are pretty sure chocolate and pears will please pretty much anyone. As you think of the perfect way to please your Valentine, consider savoring the joyous relationship that is chocolate and pears with these five recipes.

1. Dark Chocolate Dipped Pears

Move over strawberries— there’s another fruit that tastes amazing when dipped in chocolate! Rich dark chocolate pairs perfectly with Red Anjou pears, which just so happen to be heart-check certified by the American Heart Association. Decorate your dipped pears with a variety of creative options for sprinkling, like nuts, coconut flakes, and even vivid red chile powder for a kick.

2. Poached Pears in Chocolate Sauce with Walnuts

Simple to make and yet oh so elegant Poached Pears in Chocolate Sauce with Walnuts are the pear-fect finishing touch to any dinner party.

3. Chocolate Pear Delight

This decadent dessert for two is disarmingly simple to prepare. Double it for dinner parties and turn dessert into a chocolate celebration!

4. Caramelized Pear and Chocolate Pizza

Pizza for dessert? Hey, it’s a pie, right? This one is layered with sweet caramelized pears and rich, dark chocolate. It’s a happy ending for any meal.

5. Hot Fudge Pear Sundae

This pretty sundae gets seasonal flavor from the addition of fresh pears. Add a different flavor of ice cream (peanut butter, rocky road, strawberry) to make it your own!

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

Make sure to follow USA Pears on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for all things pears!

Pear, Green Tea, and Honey Granita

As we enter the depths of winter, after the holiday rush has slowed to steady daily routines, we take pleasure in things with a simpler, more nourishing feel. Enter granita, the flavor-rich frozen treat that is Italy’s answer to French sorbet or Hawaiian shave ice.

Perhaps it’s most often served as a refreshing end to a rich meal, but that’s not the end of its capabilities. After all, this recipe is simply a mixture of lusciously ripe fresh pears sweetened with a touch of honey, accentuated by a squeeze of lemon and a pinch of salt, and enhanced with the addition of matcha powder for green tea flavor and color, which also lends a smooth texture to the fluffy ice. Yes, it’s delicious served all on its own to finish dinner, but consider the options. Freshly shucked oysters benefit from a dollop to bring out the sweet and briny flavors. It’s also a traditional topping for a scoop of vanilla ice cream, with the two frozen textures—one cream, one crunchy—playing yin and yang to one another. Perhaps my favorite way to eat granita is with a fresh topping of finely chopped pears, cucumber, and mint, mixed with lime juice and pomegranate seeds—a refreshing and delicious dessert indeed, yet not overly indulgent.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

2 ripe USA Bartlett, Green Anjou, or Comice pears

2 tablespoons honey

Juice of 1/2 large lemon

1 1/2 teaspoons matcha green tea powder

Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Peel, core, and coarsely chop the pears and put them in a blender. Add the honey, lemon juice, matcha powder, and salt. Blend on high until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Pour the mixture into a shallow baking dish, such as a cake pan or bread loaf pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place the pan in the freezer until the mixture is frozen solid, at least 2 and up to 4 hours.

Using a fork, scrape the frozen granita into fluffy crystals. Spoon into small bowls, or serve as desired.

Recipe, Photos and Styling: Andrea Slonecker (@andreaslonecker)

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

Make sure to follow USA Pears on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for all things pears!

5 Hearty Pear Soups to Warm Your Winter

Few things warm the body and soul like a bowl of soup in the wintertime. When it’s cold outside, soup can bring a sense of nourishment and comfort. The winter months also happen to be an ideal time to experiment in the kitchen since the frigid temperatures keep many of us inside. Pears may not be an ingredient that immediately comes to mind when you think of soup, but they can bring a unique flavor and texture to both sweet and savory soups. They’re also an excellent source of fiber and a good source of vitamin C, making them a nutritious and delicious ingredient. Whether sautéed with vegetables before stock is added, roasted and pureed to blend with stocks, or simply chopped and added to an already simmering broth, pears are a fun and tasty way to step up your soup game. These five soups will add plenty of warmth and sweetness to the winter months.

1. Curried Butternut Squash and Pear Bisque

Developed by chef Vitaly Paley of the acclaimed restaurant Paley’s Place in Portland, OR, this vegetarian soup is simultaneously simple and decadent. Rich flavors take center stage as the creaminess, heartiness and sweetness strike a heavenly balance with squash and pears getting a nice curry kick.

2. Mulligatawny Soup with Chicken, Pears and Coconut

This autumn-inspired version of Mulligatawny soup is sure to delight. Colorful pears, tender chicken, sweet potatoes and rich coconut milk star in this adaptation of a classic English soup with Indian origins. The recipe comes together in about 30 minutes for an easy weeknight dinner, and the leftovers taste even better! Top the soup with crunchy toasted coconut and bright, fresh cilantro leaves.

3. Roasted Pear and Delicata Squash Soup with Parmesan Croutons

Simplicity is the key in this recipe with basic ingredients and cooking directions that are easy to follow. This velvety smooth soup can be made up to three days ahead of when you plan to eat it. Once it’s ready just cover, cool and refrigerate, warm it up just before serving whenever you’re ready! Homemade croutons make it a total crowd-pleaser too!

4. Pear and Sunchoke Soup with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Bacon

Sunchoke is a root vegetable also known as a Jerusalem artichoke because of its artichoke flavor. This recipe, developed by Ethan Stowell of Seattle’s Staple & Fancy, Tavoláta, How to Cook a Wolf and Anchovies & Olives, brings a sweet start to any meal with an unusual combination of ripe pears and sunchokes. Oh yeah…and bacon!

5. Pear and Sweet Corn Soup with Basil-Macadamia Pesto

Basil-macadamia pesto serves as a zesty compliment to the sweetness of the pear and corn soup. This is yet another recipe that is uncomplicated and quick to whip up, which makes it a satisfying dish to make for the family on those hectic weeknights. It’s also meatless and fairly low on oil!

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

Make sure to follow USA Pears on FacebookTwitter and Instagram for all things pears!

Pear and Pumpkin Pancakes with Cider Syrup

Chilly fall mornings are back! Before bundling up the family for a trip to the pumpkin patch, fill them up with a hearty breakfast that celebrates the season. Grated pears add sweetness to a fall favorite, pumpkin pancakes, limiting the sugar and bumping up the nutrition. Here it’s best to use a tender, juicy pear variety that is on the sweeter side, such as Bartlett, Comice, Anjou, or Starkrimson. To top it off, pear cider is cooked down with maple syrup to make a simple yet delicious all-natural syrup for drizzling. Serve with bacon and eggs for a complete brunch while entertaining houseguests when the holidays roll around. These fluffy flapjacks are sure to be a new family favorite.

Makes 12 pancakes (serves 4 to 6)

Pancakes

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk

1/2 cup pumpkin purée

1 large egg

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

2 ripe USA Pears, coarsely shredded

Syrup

2 cups pear cider

1 cup maple syrup

2 cinnamon sticks

For Serving

Unsalted butter

Powdered sugar

To make the pancakes: In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the buttermilk, pumpkin purée, egg, and vanilla until well combined. Stir in the shredded pears.

Fold the wet mixture into the dry ingredients until mostly combined. Set the batter aside for 10 to 20 minutes.

To make the syrup: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring the cider, syrup, and cinnamon sticks to a boil. Simmer until the mixture reduces by about half and is slightly thickened, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the cinnamon sticks and keep the syrup warm.

To cook the pancakes: Preheat the oven to 150 to 200˚F to keep the pancakes warm while cooking in batches.

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or griddle over medium-high heat and melt about 1 tablespoon of butter, swirling it around to coat the pan. Add 1/4 cup portions of batter to the pan, gently spreading it out with the bottom of the measuring cup. Lower the heat to medium and cook until the bottoms are nicely browned, 1 to 2 minutes, then flip and continue cooking on the second side, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes more. Transfer the pancakes to the warm oven, and repeat to cook additional batches.

Serve the pancakes with pats of butter, a sprinkling of powdered sugar, and the warm cider syrup drizzled on top.

Grilled Pear and Lamb Flatbreads

pear and ground lamb flatbread with fresh mint

Pears and meat are a winning combination. We often think of pork and chicken with fruit, but let’s not overlook lamb. That robust flavor is deliciously complemented by sweet, aromatic charred pears hot off the grill, and both partner perfectly with Middle Eastern flavors. Here we have a complete meal cooked almost entirely on the grill. A very simple dough is rolled out to make homemade flatbreads that get cooked right on the grill, and then topped with sliced grilled pears and red onions, spiced ground lamb, charred halloumi cheese, and an addictive yogurt-tahini sauce. Think of these flatbreads as a pizza of sorts, perfect for a patio party, and they’re as delicious hot as they are at room temperature.

Serves 6

Dough
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup plain yogurt (not Greek)

Toppings
1 cup yogurt
1/3 cup tahini sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
1 large garlic clove, crushed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 pound ground lamb
1 1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin seed
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon dried chile flakes
3 USA Green Bartlett Pears, halved, cored, and cut into 8 wedges each
1 red onion, cut into 1/2-inch-thick disks (each layer kept together)
8 ounces halloumi cheese, cut into 3/4-inch-thick slabs
Pine nuts, for topping
Handful torn mint leaves, for topping

To make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk the flours, salt, sugar, and baking powder. Add the yogurt and fold it in with a rubber spatula, just until blended. Dump the dough onto a work surface dusted generously with flour. Knead the dough gently until smooth, about 30 seconds, then cut it into 6 equal portions. Using a well-floured rolling pin, roll each portion of dough into an imperfect oval, about 1/8-inch thick. Add more flour to the surface or the pin as needed, as the dough will be rather sticky. On a large baking sheet, stack the dough between sheets of parchment paper, and cover loosely with plastic wrap while you prepare the toppings and preheat the grill, or for up to 1 hour.

To make the toppings: In a small bowl, whisk the yogurt, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then cover and set aside.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the lamb, fennel seed, cumin, coriander, chile flakes, and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and several grinds of pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid has evaporated, and the lamb browns and becomes slightly crispy in the rendered fat, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.

Prepare a fire in a charcoal or gas grill. For charcoal, when the coals are ready, distribute them and preheat the grate. Wait until they’ve reached medium-high heat, or when you can hold your palm about 3 inches above the grill grate for 3 to 5 seconds. If using a gas grill, preheat on high, covered, for about 15 minutes, then adjust the burners as needed throughout cooking.

Brush the pears, red onion, and halloumi with a light coating of olive oil, and season the pears and onions with salt and pepper. Arrange them on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until all are tender and nicely charred on both sides, 5 to 7 minutes for the pears and halloumi, and 8 to 10 minutes for the onions. Remove the toppings from the grill as they are done and collect them on a large rimmed baking sheet.

Brush the grill grates clean. Grill the flatbreads, two or three at a time, until puffy and charred in spots, 1 to 2 minutes per side.

To assemble the flatbreads, top each with a generous smear of the yogurt spread, dividing it evenly. Pull apart the onion rings and tear the halloumi and divide them amongst the flatbreads. Scatter the lamb over the top, followed by the pears and pine nuts. Finish with the mint leaves. Cut the flatbreads into triangle-shaped slices and serve warm or at room temperature.

Pear, Pistachio & Parmesan Pinwheels

PinwheelsYou’ll be the host with the most when you present these warm, flaky hors d’oeuvres to guests on New Year’s Eve. Diced USA pears are rolled up in puff pastry, with crunchy pistachios, piquant Parmesan, and a kick of cracked pepper, creating bite-sized bursts of flavor. Deceptively simple to prepare, and sweet and savory at the same time, they make the perfect cocktail accompaniment.

1 sheet frozen puff pastry (half a 17.3-ounce package), thawed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 cup finely diced USA Red Anjou or Bartlett pear (about ½ a large pear)
¼ cup ground pistachios
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Place the pastry sheet on a clean work surface and roll it out to smooth the seams and create a 10-inch square. Cut the square in half, forming two 10-by-5-inch rectangles. Brush the entire surface of each half of the pastry lightly with some of the beaten egg. Leaving a 1/2-inch border along a longer edge of each rectangle, sprinkle with the pears, pistachios, Parmesan, and pepper, dividing each ingredient evenly between the two.

Starting at the long side opposite the plain border, roll up each pastry like a jelly roll, pressing gently to seal the ends, creating a long log. Wrap each log individually in plastic wrap and chill in the freezer until firm, at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

To bake, position racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven and preheat it to 400°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut each pastry log crosswise into about 24 round pinwheels. Arrange the pinwheels on the lined baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart. Bake until the pinwheels are puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom in the oven about halfway through.

Cool briefly on the pans, and serve warm. Makes 48 hors d’oeuvres.

Ditch the Guilt

52549295 - pensive happy woman remembering looking at side sitting in a bar or home terrace

It’s Sunday morning and you splurged too much on food or drink last night. You’re tired, unmotivated, and guilt creeps in from not making the best choices. Sound familiar? The truth is we all splurge sometimes, myself included, and we need a plan – especially with the holidays approaching – to ditch the guilt and get out of the splurge cycle!

As a dietitian, I feel like I work with guilt almost as much as I work with improving eating habits. Unfortunately, too many of us associate eating habits or what the mirror displays with self-worth and confidence. We are more than what we eat! Here are some steps I review with my clients (and sometimes myself!), give it a try! First, reflect on the occasions when you splurged. Would you take back the entire day or night, the time spent with friends, or the experiences you had? Probably not, so stop obsessing and forgive yourself. Second, stop telling yourself you should eat a certain way and that you’re a failure when you don’t. Instead, focus on eating healthfully and exercising to feel better. Third, start with the next bite. Most people count diet by days, when diet is everything we put in our bodies over time. Weeks are a much better measure of health, so let’s find balance over the next few days. Fourth and finally, increase your fruits and vegetables. Not only do fruits and veggies provide nutrients, fiber, and water, but they are the foundation for leading a healthful life. In the end, it’s never too early or too late to feel better, so start right now!

Stuffed Avocado with Bay Shrimp, Pear, and Mango

This stuffed avocado recipe is both simple and elegant. Begin with sweet and salty bay shrimp, and add crunchy pears and tropical, ripe mango to provide great texture and flavor. Bright, fresh lime juice plays perfectly with the creamy, rich avocado, and a pop of fresh mint will bring it all together. Serve this salad for lunch on a warm day, or alongside some grilled meat at your next barbecue.

Stuffed AvocadoIngredients
8 oz. bay shrimp
¼ a red onion, finely minced
1 firm ripe USA Pear, small dice
1 ripe mango, peeled and diced small
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons neutral oil, such as grapeseed
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1 small handful fresh mint leaves, torn
2 ripe avocados, halved and pitted

Directions
In a medium bowl, combine the shrimp, onion, pear, mango, and lime juice and gently stir to combine. Add the oil and salt, and toss to coat. Gently mix in the torn mint at the last moment. Divide the mixture between the four avocado halves, filling the cavity and allowing the extra shrimp salad to overflow onto the plate. Serve immediately.

Prep time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Smoky Red Pear and Grilled Corn Salsa

USA Pears are back in season, and this unique late summer salsa is the perfect way to show them off! Adding a few pinches of cumin lends the salsa a gentle smokiness which balances the honey-sweetness of the pears. Serve this salsa with your favorite tortilla chips or use it to generously top grilled chicken or pork.

red pear salsa
Ingredients
2 ears of corn, shucked
1 tsp. neutral flavored oil, such as grapeseed
½ a medium sweet onion, small dice
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely minced
2 firm ripe red USA pears, such as Starkrimson or Red Bartlett
1 lime (for zest and juice)
¼ tsp. ground cumin
¼ tsp. sea salt
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

Directions
Preheat your grill to medium. Drizzle the oil over the corn and rub to coat with the oil. Once the grill is hot, cook the corn for about 15 minutes, turning occasionally, until hot and blistered in spots. Set the corn aside until cool enough to handle. Once cooled, cut the kernels from the cobs using a sharp knife. In a medium bowl, combine the corn, sweet onion, jalapeno, and pears. Zest half of the lime and add it to the salsa, then halve the lime and squeeze the juice over the ingredients. Add the cumin, salt, and cilantro, and gently toss to coat. Transfer the salsa to a bowl and serve.

Prep time: 35 minutes
Yield: 3 cups salsa