Oh dear Apple, why must you get all the love? Alright, I get it. You come waltzing into town as the first sign that sticky summer is on its way out, and fall’s brisk breeze is coming in. A sign my beloved sweater and good-hair weather has arrived. But after Thanksgiving, when everyone has had their last slice of pie, I am asking you to step aside and make room for the oh-so-humble Pear.
Is it me, or do pears just seem a little more elegant? Like they carry a little extra holiday sparkle and cheer? When your eye catches pear on a menu, does it not do a “hmm, now that’s creative…”? Think about it. Don’t you want some pears on your holiday menu?
Craving a cookie that was not so “same old same old” I decided to pair pears (ha!) with a soft and chewy ginger cookie. Pear upside down gingerbread cake was considered, but I wanted something more munch-able. Either way, pears with spiced ginger and dark molasses is a natural combination.
I didn’t need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to grain-free, naturally sweetened soft and chewy ginger cookies. Texanerin Baking did it just the other week. Her recipe sounded like I everything I wanted in a chewy thumbprint cookie base. I just added the spiced pear filling and a drizzle of caramel. You know, to make them that much more addicting.
These cookies earned me a few new friends at our first childbirth class last week – and I have no doubt they’ll earn you lots of “wow’s” on your holiday cookie trays. That is, if you want to share.
In case you haven’t heard, December is National Pear Month. Pear growers in the Northwest are celebrating a record sized crop thanks to ideal weather conditions this summer and fall. With so many varieties to choose from, it’s easy to add pears to your favorite winter dishes like salads (how about baby spinach with pears, blue cheese and candied pecans?), savory dishes (I’m picturing salmon with a creamy pear and hazelnut sauce – recipe yet to be created) and sweets (caramelized pear tarts, poached pears in spiced wine, trifles of gingerbread layered with pear compote and whipped cream… that list could go on and on!)
And here’s a fun fact you might not know: when it comes to ripeness, check the neck! Easy as that. When a pear is ripe, the neck should feel just slightly tender.
Need more pear inspiration? Here are some I came up with after attending a special pear-themed dinner last fall:
Pear Ginger Thumbprints with Caramel Drizzle
Yield: 22-24 cookies
Soft and chewy grain-free ginger and molasses cookies filled with spiced pears and finished with a creamy caramel drizzle. Gluten-free, dairy-free, and naturally sweetened.
Cookies Adapted from Texanerin Baking
2 cups (240gm) raw whole almonds
1/2 cup (66 grams) coconut flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
6 tablespoons (84 grams) coconut oil
1/2 cup (160 grams) honey
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (110 grams) molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 medium pear, peeled, cored, and finely diced
2 tablespoons coconut sugar
2 tablespoons water
pinch of ground cloves
1/2 cup (packed) dates
2 tablespoons creamy almond butter
5 tablespoons unsweetened plain or vanilla almond milk
1 tablespoon honey
pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350ºF.
Combine dry ingredients for cookies (almonds, coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, allspice and nutmeg) in a the bowl of a food processor fitted with steel blade. Process until almonds are finely ground.
In a large glass measuring cup, melt the coconut oil in the microwave or low heat (you want it to be liquid, but not too hot.) Whisk in the honey, molasses, vanilla and egg. Pour into the food processor and process again to combine. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Melt coconut oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add pears, coconut sugar and water. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until pears are softened. Stir in ground cloves.
Place dates in a heat-proof bowl. Pour enough boiling water to cover the dates and set aside for 5 minutes.
Remove dates with a slotted spoon and transfer to a food processor or blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. (Use your judgement here: use whichever appliance you think is more powerful. I started in the my food processor but ended up transferring to a large cup and used my immersion blender to finish it.)
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Wet a medium cookie scoop and scoop portions of dough onto the cookie sheets, re-wetting the scoop as needed (this helps deal with the sticky dough.) Wet your thumbs and create an indent in each ball of dough. Spoon about 1 teaspoon of the pear filling into each cookie. Bake for 14-16 minutes. Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack.
Spoon the caramel into a plastic bag and snip a small piece off one corner. Drizzle the caramel onto the cookies.
Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.
Cara Lyons, www.carascravings.com
Disclaimer: I created this recipe to help promote National Pear Month on behalf of USA Pears, in return for free pears. All opinions are my own.