Pear Clafouti

pear_clafouti-sm-SQ

You can make this custardy French dessert using only the blender and a toaster oven. A splash of rum or brandy accentuates the flavors of the pears.

Ingredients
Bartlett USA Pears, peeled and cut in half
2 tablespoons rum or brandy
¼ cup sugar
2 eggs
½ cup cream
½ cup milk
⅓ cup flour
Powdered sugar

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove the core and the stem from each pear half. Cut each in lengthwise slices ¼- to ½-inch thick and fan the slices out, keeping them attached at the stem end. Arrange the sliced pear halves in a non-stick or greased 9-inch pie plate with the stem ends pointing toward the center of the pan. Pour the rum or brandy over the pears.

In a blender, combine the sugar, eggs, cream, milk, and flour and blend until smooth. Let batter rest for 10 minutes then tipping the pie pan slightly, drain the liquor into the batter and stir. Place the pie plate on a cookie sheet to catch any spills, and pour the batter over the pears. Carefully transfer to the oven and bake until the clafouti is puffed and brown in the center, about 45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and dust with powdered sugar before serving.

prep time: About 20 minutes
cooking time: 45 minutes
yield: Serves 8

Recipe developed by Amy Sherman.

Pear and Pumpkin Snack Cake

pear and pumpkin snack cake

With whole wheat flour, pumpkin puree, and sweet and juicy USA Pears, this snack cake is a unique treat for boxed lunches or weekend gatherings.

Ingredients
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2-½ cups peeled, cored and diced firm, ripe USA Pear, preferably Bosc
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup brown sugar, packed
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter cut in ½-inch pieces
¾ teaspoon salt
¾ cup pumpkin puree
⅓ cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1-½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
¾ teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch by 8-inch baking dish.

Melt butter in a sauté pan over medium high heat. Add diced pears and sauté until they begin to brown slightly around the edges, 3 to 5 minutes. Add sugar and cinnamon and continue to cook until golden brown and lightly translucent, about 3 more minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

Combine all-purpose and whole wheat flour, brown sugar, butter, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on low speed until the mixture resembles coarse meal with butter pieces no larger than pea-sized. Measure out ⅔ cup and set aside.

Whisk pumpkin, sour cream or Greek yogurt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger, and baking soda together. Add to remaining dry mixture in mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well to incorporate.

Pour batter into pan and evenly distribute caramelized pears over the top in a single layer. Cover pears with reserved dry mixture.

Bake until golden brown and pulling away slightly from the edges of the pan, about 75 minutes or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack 20 minutes before running a knife around the inside edges of the pan to loosen.

preparation time: 30 minutes
bake time: 75 minutes
yield:  Makes 6 to 8 servings

Pear and Pecan Torte

Pear-and-Pecan-Torte

Made with ground nuts in place of all or some of the flour, a torte is a wonderfully unique dessert. This recipe is based on a classic southern pecan torte that uses a different fall tree fruit (which shall remain nameless), but I absolutely adore my version which uses pears. The cake is incredibly light thanks to the long whipping time of the eggs and sugar, and the ground pecans give this dessert a perfect crumb. The lightness of this dessert allows the flavors of pears and vanilla to really come through. I am officially in love with this cake, and I suspect it will become a favorite of yours, too!

Ingredients
Butter and flour for dusting pan
2 cups pecan halves
3 eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
2 firm-ripe USA Pears, such as Green Bartlett or Comice, small dice
Whipped cream for serving

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter a 10-inch cake pan and dust with flour.

Pick through the pecans and pull out 8 perfect halves for garnish and set aside. Place the remaining pecans in a food processor and pulse multiple times until you have a mixture that looks just slightly coarser than flour. Set aside. Using a stand mixer or hand mixer, whip the eggs on medium-high speed until very light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Continue to whip the eggs and add the sugar, about 2 tablespoons at a time, allowing it to become well incorporated after each addition. After several minutes the mixture should be very voluminous and pale. Add the vanilla and whip to combine.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Sift the dry mixture into the egg and sugar mixture and fold them gently together with a spatula, being careful not to over-mix. Next, chop the pears into a small dice—¼-inch or smaller. Add all of the chopped pears and the pecan meal to the batter, once again folding to combine without over-mixing.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, and bake for 40-45 minutes. When the torte is done, the edges will have pulled away from the pan. Cool the torte for at least 30 minutes before serving. Carefully turn the cake out of the pan and turn it right-side up again. Slice into 8 or more pieces and serve with a large spoonful of whipped cream and a perfect pecan half.

Store any extra torte in the refrigerator – it is just as delicious served cold.

Pears Pair Well with the Holidays!

Red Wine Poached Pear with Mascarpone and Candied Almonds

Happy holidays and happy National Pear Month! The USDA touts December as National Pear Month because the greatest varieties of pears are available right now, and the holidays wouldn’t be as joyous without these succulent and versatile treasures! The northwest United States is home to ten varieties of pears, thus recipes and ideas abound for the holidays. Why not make your holiday table healthier and happier with pears?

Pears lend a festive flair to any dish, and since they’re a healthful fruit, they add nutrients and fiber that keep you feeling full while you’re shopping or tempted by the sweets table at holiday parties. One of my favorite dishes to serve for the holidays or bring to gatherings is poached pears, particularly the delicious and tender red wine poached pears with mascarpone and candied almonds. The addition of mascarpone and almonds lend bite plus a sweet and savory flavor profile to the buttery mouthfeel of poached pears. Indeed, poaching pears in diluted juice also makes for a delicious and festive breakfast! Enjoy your pears and have a happy, healthy holiday!

Mint-Poached Bosc Pears

I’m visiting the markets in Mexico this week, and attended a recipe demonstration that is, coincidentally, perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!

Ingredients

8 Bosc USA Pears, peeled, cored, and cut in half

1 ½ cups sugar

1 ½ cups water

1 teaspoon green food coloring

¼ cup mint liquor

Directions

Boil water in pot, add sugar and pears and cook for 15 minutes at a rapid boil.

Turn down heat and allow to cool.

Add food coloring and liquor, covering the pears. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving. Serve with chocolate sauce, if desired.

yield: Serves 4
preparation time: 25 minutes
difficulty: easy

Love Infusion with Anjou Pear

The winners of our annual recipe contest in Hong Kong were recently announced.  We received over 60 food and drink recipes competing for supermarket gift cards to help the winners buy – what else – more USA Pears (but other groceries, too).  The entries were judged by a popular magazine in Hong Kong based on the recipe’s creativity, tastiness and nutritional value.

One of the winning recipes below sounds delicious – but also quite interesting.  And with a name like this, I’m only sorry that I didn’t have it in time to make for Valentine’s Day.  It’s easy to make – give it a try at home and let us know how it turns out!  I’m interested to hear about the milk/cream/sugar concoction and what flavor it adds to the recipe.  You can tell everyone that you’ve prepared an authentic recipe from Hong Kong!

USA Pears HK Recipe Contest

Winning dish: Love Infusion with Anjou Pear (Caramel Chocolate Anjou pear)

Winner: Leung Choi Hung

Ingredients

1 Green Anjou USA Pear

10 squares of a chocolate bar

1/4 cup crunchy rice cereal

2 teaspoons sugar

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup cream

Directions

1. Boil milk with cream and sugar. Place pear into this mixture and keep refrigerated for 2 hours.

2. Heat the chocolate until completely melted. Place the cereal on a plate or flat surface.

3. Remove the pear from the fridge; coat with melted chocolate.

4. Roll the chocolate-covered pear in the cereal until coated.

5. Wait for chocolate to become firm; serve and enjoy!

Will you be my Valentine?

February is American Heart Month. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States; it’s no wonder Valentine’s month is devoted to the heart! The best way to love your heart is to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, exchange saturated fats for unsaturated fats, exercise, and manage weight and stress. From my personal experience in nutrition, most of us eat too many processed foods and not nearly enough plant foods packed with heart-healthy nutrients, fiber, and antioxidants. Certainly, we don’t have to cut out foods we love; we simply need to creatively come up with healthier, more natural alternatives.

Do something sweet for your heart this Valentine’s Day. Instead of an extravagant, high-calorie dinner, opt for a romantic dessert at home. Combine dark chocolate, rich in phytonutrients that may improve heart health called flavonoids, and fruit rich in heart disease fighting antioxidants. Give it a try! Melt 1.5 ounces of dark chocolate and drizzle over cut pears, walnuts, and strawberries for a decadent treat lower in calories than most restaurant desserts and higher in nutrients for a healthy heart.

A Simple Pear Crisp

pear harvest

Last week I made a trip to Hood River, in the heart of one of USA Pears’ four growing regions, for the Hood River County Fruit Loop Pear Celebration.  Although it was overcast, which prevented the spectacular views that you’ll see on a clear day, the orchards were loaded with the new season crop of USA Pears in every variety.  Harvest is a few weeks late this year, but lucky for me, I was still able to pick up fresh Bartlett and Starkrimson pears at the many fruit stands on the loop.

With my bounty, I decided to make a pear crisp, one of my favorite ways to kick off autumn.  I combined several different recipes to come up with a crisp that’s just how I like it – feel free to experiment and make your own adjustments!

pear crispA Simple Pear Crisp

Ingredients

4 USA Pears, peeled and sliced thinly (Bartlett works great)
1/6 cup water
Juice from 2/3 of a lemon
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
1/4 cup butter, melted

Directions

Place sliced pears in pan (I used a 9 x 9 inch square pan) with water and lemon juice.  In a bowl, stir together flour, oats, brown sugar, and cinnamon for topping.  Pour in melted butter, mixing well.  Spread topping evenly over pears and bake at 350 for 45-55 minutes. I like to serve mine à la mode!

Difficulty: Easy
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

pear crisp

Show Your Love with USA Pears

It’s almost Valentine’s Day! I decided to round up some unusual gift ideas involving, of course, USA Pears. First, you could go the obvious route and give, well, pears. Red Anjou pears are in season now, and with their pretty red skin and light citrus notes, they’re a lovely gift for any girl or boy.

Harry and David has some fun Valentine’s Day-themed gift sets. I especially like this Fondue for Two with their signature Royal Riviera Pears.

If your sweetie has a knack for cooking, why not splurge on a Le Creuset dutch oven? Every cook I know covets one if they don’t own it already. And in bright, vivid red, it’s a fitting reminder of the romantic holiday.

Or if you’d rather focus on the experience, why not make your Valentine a delicious dessert? Poached pears turn decadent when they’re drizzled with chocolate sauce, as seen here. Looking for something lighter? Roasted Pears with Strawberry Relish will be sure to please your partner!

Whatever you choose, make your Valentine’s Day especially sweet with fresh USA Pears!

National Chocolate Cake Day

It’s National Chocolate Cake Day! What are you waiting for?!

If you haven’t yet celebrated, don’t worry. I’ve dug up three delectable chocolate cakes that just so happen to include the lovely, complementary, ever-so-sweet pear. Get to baking!

First up, Smitten Kitchen’s rustic Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake. You know you want to dig into that.

Next, we have an Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake from the cookbook Rustic Fruit Desserts: Crumbles, Buckles, Cobblers, Pandowdies, and More. (This cookbook is delightful—we gave away a copy last year in an e-newsletter contest!)

And behind door number three, the symmetrical, gluten-free Flourless Chocolate and Pear Cake at BBC Good Food. The measurements are metric, since it’s a British recipe, but you can find some help with that online.

So, celebrate! Today you can have your cake and eat it, too!