We have been getting large numbers of beautiful pears from our CSA fruit share, and this weekend we had ten dead-ripe pears just begging to be turned into something delicious. I decided to begin by turning them into some crockpot chunky pear sauce, with a couple of follow-up applications that are super easy and delicious.
First I peeled and cored the pears and threw them all in the crockpot to cook down:
To the fruit I added some ground ginger (about a teaspoon), a pinch of salt, some vanilla extract, a half cup of apple juice, and a half cup of sorghum:
Sorghum is obviously optional–you could use brown sugar, honey, agave, or whatever makes you happy, but I love the mineral, not-too-sweet flavor of sorghum with pears and apples. If you use honey or agave I would decrease the amount to a third cup, as they are sweeter than sorghum. This sorghum came from a small producer in Bedford, Indiana, and I need to pick up a few more jars the next time I visit:
I set the crockpot on high and let it cook away for three hours, at which point the pears had cooked down into a lovely, chunky fruit sauce:
Of course it is delicious just like this, and you could stop right here and be perfectly happy. You could even put it in some canning jars and give it a water bath and save it for February. Or, you could make my two simple desserts, which is of course where I decided to go. My first dessert was the incredibly simple Ginger Pear Fool, which is a bit of a homely dessert but is so good that you will wonder why you have never done this with a seasonal fruit. The etymology of “fool” is not clear, but one speculative connection is with “folly” as is connected with the similarly British dessert, trifle. Maybe it is so named because it is so simple even a fool could make it (I did, after all). At any rate, a fool is simply a lightly sweetened fruit puree that is folded into softly whipped cream. It is that easy. I whipped up some heavy cream with just a bit of powdered sugar (one cup cream to a half cup of sugar) and then folded in the fruit along with some finely minced crystallized ginger. Refrigerate for an hour or so to firm, then devour:
It is amazingly good, somewhat like an unfrozen, not-too-sweet ice cream. Try it, you will love it. My second dessert was almost equally simple, and also of an old-fashioned sort–Pear Brown Betty. This is another dessert that used to be a staple when fruits were in season, as it is a good way to use up a whole bunch of fruit along with some stale bread. For my version I used some stale baguette to make up a few cups of fresh bread crumbs. For this you want to make crumbs that are not too small, so you get a light textured dessert. I just put hunks of the bread in the food processor and pulsed until I had the crumb size I was after:
This mix of small and large crumb size is what you are after. If you are a purist you may remove the crusts, but this isn’t really a fussy dessert. To assemble, butter or spray a small baking pan to coat (I used an 8 by 11 inch pan for this). Spread a layer of your fruit sauce on the bottom of the pan and top with a thick layer of bread crumbs. Repeat at least once, ending with a bread crumb layer. Sprinkle the top layer with a little sugar, then bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until the edges are brown and bubbly and the top crumb layer is golden:
The texture of the final product is surprisingly light textured–almost fluffy–assuming that you used fresh crumbs of uneven size. This is one of those old-fashioned desserts that I think deserves a comeback, and I hope you will try it. To make this Gluten Free, I would use a good-quality GF product to make the crumbs, such as Udi’s Plain Bagels, which are excellent.
I still haven’t figured out what to do with that Daikon radish, but today is Radish Extravaganza Day at our house and I hope that will be a positive thing.
Thanks for reading,