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!

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12 Creative Ways to Poach a Pear

How many ways can you poach a pear? There may not be a set answer when you consider that the pear-ssibilities are endless. The classic go-to seems to be red or white wine poached pears, which is definitely one of the prettiest and most decadent ways to poach. But when it comes to poaching, sometimes it’s worth it to think outside the pear box. Besides wine, pears can be poached in cider, bold and flavorful beers like stouts and Belgian ales, and even espresso, among other liquids. Restaurants love to impress diners with beautifully poached pear dishes because, besides being delicious, they are visually striking. Even though poached pears may look challenging to make, most recipes are easier than you might think.

December is National Pear Month and the time of year when all ten varieties of Northwest pears are in season. It also happens to be the holidays, making it the ideal time to test out your poaching skills and impress friends, family and party guests with these 12 creative poached pear recipes…

Spiced Anjou Pears

Even if you haven’t tried poaching a pear before, this is an easy recipe to get you started! Simplicity is key and the combination of spices and herbs makes for a dish that is sweet, refreshing, and totally festive.

Sweet Vermouth Poached Pears

Sweet vermouth has really made a comeback thanks to the craft cocktail movement, and we should all be glad it did. The distinct and wonderful flavors that a good vermouth can lend make classic cocktails like the Manhattan truly timeless, which is the same sentiment that went into this unique recipe. Pick up a bottle for making these poached pears and pour yourself a little over an ice cube to enjoy while you cook. You won’t be sorry.

TAZO Spicy Ginger-poached Pears

Berry or bright red teas make for a fruity twist in this recipe. Spoon any extra sauce over scoops of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, or serve as a syrup with hot pancakes or waffles.

Tropical Hibiscus Poached Pears

Most poached pear recipes rely on Bosc pears, but this recipe calls for Bartletts, which many consider to have the ‘classic’ pear flavor. That juicy and distinct pear flavor is only enhanced by this recipe’s poaching liquid, which consists of a tropically-flavored white wine, hibiscus flower tea, orange slices, and whole vanilla bean. The pears take on a lovely, light pink hue while bathing in the liquid, which reduces to a deliciously sweet and wonderfully unique sauce for serving.

Red Wine Poached Pear With Mascarpone and Candied Almonds

Did someone say dessert? Here’s another simple yet decadent recipe that is perfect for impressing a date or whipping up for your holiday guests. We all know that pears and cheese are delicious when served together, and with this recipe we get a beautiful mélange of sweet and creamy.

Poached Bosc Pears

Simple and delicious, poached Bosc pears retain their distinctive honey sweetness and are firm enough to maintain shape. Lightly used, spices can add their voice to this dessert, which can be served warm or chilled.

Pears Poached in Belgian-Style Beer

Poaching pears in wheat beer makes for a silky, mellow treat. This recipe is a great accompaniment to a cheeseboard with olives, crackers, and honey, perfect for starting off a meal.

Espresso and Cherry Poached Pears

Wake up your dessert offerings with these espresso and cherry poached pears. Sweet and smooth, they’re heavenly with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt. It doesn’t hurt that they look like artwork on a plate.

Poached Pears with Vanilla Caramel Sauce Recipe

Although any firm pear will do, this recipe is perfect for long-necked Bosc pears as they hold their shape well during cooking. The combination of tangy, sweet and nutty is wonderfully divine.

Bourbon-Masala Poached Pears

Here’s a poached pear recipe for the whiskey lover, which combines bourbon and sweet Indian spices in the poaching liquid. The flavors are deepened thanks to a quick steep of the spices before the pears are added along with a reduction of the sauce as a finale. Serve these poached pears in their own rich sauce with a scoop of coconut gelato. They also make a complementary addition to our Ham and Goat Cheese Sandwich!

Creamy Coconut and Star Anise Poached Pears

In this recipe, coconut milk and star anise come together to create a simple but indescribably delicious sauce for classic poached pears. It can be dished up as a dessert, with the warm poached pears served with a drizzle of the coconut-anise poaching liquid atop, or, as in the following recipe, as a tasty protein-and-fiber-filled breakfast with the poached pear served over creamy Greek yogurt and crunchy granola.

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.

Want more pear recipes? Visit our recipe page!

Make sure to follow USA Pears on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for all things pears!

You can also enter to win a box of fresh USA Pears HERE!

Pear Rugelach

Rugelach, the crescent-shaped, cookie-like pastries filled with any combination of nuts, fruit, chocolate, and seeds, is a festive holiday treat of Jewish decent. Though they are commonly filled with dried fruits, like raisins, fresh pears diced extra small are a tasty twist. Pear butter adds another layer of flavor and allows the filling to stick to the dough as you roll them up. It can be found in the jam aisle at many supermarkets. The cream cheese dough is tender, flaky, and oh so easy to mix together, making this recipe a fun endeavor for families of any faith during the holiday season.

Makes 36

Ingredients:

Dough

16 tablespoons (1 cup/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

3/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature

1/3 cup sour cream

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

Filling

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 cup finely diced pears

1/2 cup finely chopped toasted hazelnuts

3 tablespoons pear butter (homemade or store-bought)

1 egg, beaten

Directions: 

To make the dough: Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, cream cheese, sour cream, and salt until creamy. Add the flour, and stir by hand until the dough comes together. Divide the dough into three equal portions, and pat and press each into a smooth disk. Tightly wrap the disks in plastic, and chill the dough until firm but not hard, about 1 hour. (The dough can be made up to 2 days in advance and kept in the refrigerator; soften slightly before rolling.)

To make the filling: Stir the sugar, cinnamon, and salt in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, mix the pears, hazelnuts, and 1/3 cup of the cinnamon-sugar, reserving the rest to sprinkle the top of the rugelach later.

Dust a work surface generously with flour. Use a rolling pin to roll one of the dough disks into a 10- to 11-inch circle. Brush the surface evenly, all the way to the edges, with 1 tablespoon of the pear butter. Use a spoon and your fingers to spread about one-third of the filling mixture over the pear butter. Use a pizza or pastry cutter or long knife to cut the circle into 12 wedges by first cutting it in half, then in quarters, then each quarter into thirds. Roll up each wedge, beginning at the wide end and rolling toward the tip. Arrange the rugelach on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, with tip sides pointing down. Repeat with the remaining two dough disks.

Brush the top of the rugelach with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the remaining cinnamon-sugar.

Preheat the oven to 350°F, and refrigerate the rugelach while the oven preheats.

Bake the rugelach until golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and set aside to cool for at least 5 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Rugelach will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days, or wrapped tightly and frozen for up to 3 months.

Photography: George Barberis (@georgebarberis)
Recipe and Styling: Andrea Slonecker (@andreaslonecker)

Fall is the Pear-fect Time for Sweet Swaps

Let me set the record straight: there’s no one food that’s a miracle cure for all ailments, nor is there just one food that is responsible for causing all of our health issues. Balance is what’s key when it comes to a healthy diet.

If there is one food that adds calories without adding much value, it’s sugar. Sugar is what I call, The Master of Disguise, appearing more often on food labels than you might realize, and not always spelled as s-u-g-a-r. These aliases can show up on ingredient lists as molasses, high fructose corn syrup, organic cane juice, and dozens of other names.

The good news is that our new food labels (on or before January 2020) will finally differentiate between natural sugar (the sugar that is inherently within foods like milk, yogurt and fruit) and added sugar (the sugar and its substitutes that food companies add to their products).

In the meantime, it’s best to get your sweets from natural sources, like fruit, which don’t even need to wear any labels. Pears are an example of a delicious fruit that not only satisfies your sweet tooth, but also brings a bushel of other nutritional benefits.

Did you know that one medium-sized pear provides 6 grams of fiber, a nutrient most of us don’t seem to get enough of? Fiber helps you feel fuller for longer and helps food move through your system more efficiently, two important factors that could help promote weight loss and better digestion. Pears also contain important nutrients including vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium, and an array of antioxidants…and contain only 100 calories!

Although a juicy pear can stand on its own as a snack or even dessert, you can also purée pears and use them as a “sweet swap” in a variety of recipes. For example, pear purée can be substituted for refined sugar in baked goods – like cookies, cakes and breads – as a natural sweetener. With Halloween and the holidays on the horizon, sugary temptations are inevitable. Don’t be afraid to put a spin on a classic recipe by trying a pear purée sweet swap. You might just be creating a new crowd favorite!

Inspired to try a sweet swap recipe? Try my Crunchy Pear Cobbler for dessert tonight — it’s so easy to put together and even easier to enjoy!

Beat the Heat!

Creamy pear popsicles with chunks of kiwi and yellow sticks

Summer is my favorite season, because of the social gatherings, barbecues, picnics, and summer treats that satisfy my sweet tooth. I pay attention to my calorie intake carefully – especially during the hot summer when cold, decadent treats are everywhere. So, what is a dietitian to do? Make popsicles, of course! Anything that can be made into juice or a smoothie can also be made into a delicious popsicle that fulfills that sweet craving, cools you off, and packs in nutrients without unnecessary calories.

Making popsicles is very easy, in fact it’s a fun activity for the whole family. And you don’t need any molds or special equipment, paper cups and popsicle sticks will suffice. For this method, place the cups on a tray, fill them ¾ full, cover the cups with saran wrap, and press the sticks through to keep them in place. Once frozen, just peel off the paper cup. No blender? No problem! Slice or dice fruit into small pieces, place in molds or paper cups, and fill cups ¾ full with juice.

So, what makes a delicious popsicle? I skip the added sugar and go straight to the fruit. A basic recipe might be a sliced, cored, ripe pear blended with enough water to make smoothie consistency. I like the sweetness and texture of blended Bartlett or very ripe Anjou pears for my popsicles. Then try simple additions, such as other fruits, 100% fruit juices, coconut water, dairy or alternative milks, and maybe some herbs or favorite extracts. Maybe you’re craving a creamier, more decadent treat? Try blending pears with yogurt, a banana, or an avocado. Popsicles are great for entertaining, too. If you really want to impress your guests, unmold your frozen popsicles, drizzle with chocolate sauce, dust with nuts or sprinkles, and place back in the freezer before serving.

Indulgences don’t have to be elegant, and treats that beat the heat can be just as satisfying! Want more inspiration? Try this recipe for creamy pear popsicles with kiwi and lime.

Dark Chocolate Dipped Pears

Valentine pears dipped in chocolate and topped with fun toppingsMove over strawberries—chocolate dipped pears are a fresh twist on this decadent Valentine’s Day treat. Rich dark chocolate pairs perfectly with Red Anjou pears, which just so happen to be heart-check certified by the American Heart Association. (Happy National Heart Month!) 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. With this thoughtful homemade gift, your Valentine will definitely be yours!

Makes 32

2 USA Red Anjou pears (about 1 pound)
1 teaspoon Fruit-Fresh® Produce Protector
8 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 70% cacao), chopped

Options for Sprinkling:
Finely chopped pistachios or other nuts
Flaky sea salt
Shredded coconut
Chile powder
Curry powder
Sesame seeds
Chopped colorful dried fruit, such as apricots, cranberries, or goji berries

Fill a medium saucepan with about 1 inch of water and bring it to a simmer over medium-high heat. Line a baking sheet with wax paper.

Halve, core, and stem the pears and cut each one into 16 wedges. Sprinkle with the Fruit-Fresh and toss the pears gently to coat evenly. (This will prevent the cut pears from browning for several hours.) Arrange the pears on the prepared baking sheet and place it next to the stove.

Place the chocolate in a medium stainless-steel bowl and set the bowl over the pan of simmering water. (Make sure the water doesn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.) Once the chocolate begins to melt, stir until melted and smooth, about 3 minutes. Remove the chocolate from the heat.

Immediately begin dipping the wide ends of the pears in the chocolate, coating about half the length. Allow the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl and place the dipped pears on the wax paper. Working quickly before the chocolate dries, sprinkle with your choice of the optional garnishes. Refrigerate, uncovered to allow the chocolate to set, about 1 hour.

Once set, cover loosely with plastic wrap and keep the pears in the refrigerator until served. Enjoy them within the day.

Chocolate Pears 3

Waiting for the Weight?

Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_rosipro'>rosipro / 123RF Stock Photo</a>Ah, the holidays. That magical time of year when friends and family come together, airports are overrun, siblings fight, and we all pack on a few pounds that we resolve to lose in January. (Actually, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2000 suggests we only gain about one pound over the holidays!) My first holiday gathering is this week, and since I have a terrible sweet tooth I’ve already pictured the dessert table. It looks delicious and is full of my favorites, so what do I do? I say it every year – plan, plan, plan! So where to start?

First, never arrive hungry. If I’m hungry when I walk in the door, within minutes I might have a bottle of wine and an entire cake in my hands. That’s not good, so carry filling snacks with you or stop on the way to the party for a filling bite.

Second, eat well throughout the day to avoid peaks and valleys in blood sugar that may cause overindulgence. A good tip I tell my clients is to always eat two macronutrients together, such as a high-fiber carbohydrate with a protein or fat – for example, a fresh, fiber-rich pear with a few cubes of cheese or a smear of nut butter. Fiber, fat, and protein help us stay satisfied in different ways, so we can stay on track when temptation dances in front of us.

Third, step away from the table! We tend to linger in the kitchen or over the treats; this makes sense because we’re social eaters and eating together connects us, especially at the holidays. But if you move the party away a few feet, you’re less likely to mindlessly nibble. Likewise, use a beautiful fruit bowl as your centerpiece – happy and healthy!

Fourth, watch the libations! If your indulgence is more of the liquid kind, try a low-calorie mixer or follow what I call the sandwich method: Have your cocktail, but follow it with a glass of water before the next cocktail. This will help you avoid overindulgence and help you stay hydrated – another cause of overindulgence.

Finally, if you do overindulge, cut yourself some slack, stick to your exercise routine, and get back on track with the next bite . Eating healthfully, enjoying plenty of fruits and veggies, and drinking more water will help you fight the holiday overindulgence and stay on track through the New Year!

Pear Sweetened Spiced Molasses Cookies

pear-cookies-crop-1These delightful fall cookies are reminiscent of a classic soft molasses cookie, but are made with less than half of the sugar in a typical recipe. Pear puree stands in for much of the sugar, adding a wonderfully unique pear flavor to the cookies, along with fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Bake off a batch of these tender cookies and store the extras in the refrigerator for packing into lunches or for after school snacks.

Ingredients:
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
¼ cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup pear puree (from about 2 ripe USA Pears, such as Red or Green Bartlett, diced and
pureed in a blender until smooth)
¼ cup molasses
2 ¼ cups whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon cloves
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
granulated sugar, for rolling

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine melted butter and brown sugar and whisk to combine. Add egg, one cup of the pear puree, and molasses and whisk again until smooth. In a second bowl, combine the flour, spices, baking powder, and salt, and stir to mix. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir until the mixture comes together to form a soft dough. Refrigerate the dough until firm, at least one hour.

When you are ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a small bowl of granulated sugar for rolling the cookies. Roll the chilled dough into 1 ½ inch balls and roll in the granulated sugar, placing the cookies onto greased baking sheets as you go. Lastly, flatten the cookies slightly with the bottom of a drinking glass that has been dipped in the remaining sugar to prevent sticking. Bake the cookies for 11-13 minutes, rotating once during cooking. Allow to cool before removing from pans.