Perfect Pears

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It does not matter which shop or market that you go into, or which veg box scheme you are signed up for, at this time of year you can not get away from pears. I’m not sure why you’d want to either. You may be lucky enough to have a pear tree in your garden, in which case, you’ll be even more over run. They do, however, have a very short shelf life, and you have to be ready to hit the ground running when someone presents you with a bag, or you pick up a bargain at the farmer’s market.

There are many reasons not to leave those pears in the fruit bowl to ripen when you’re not looking and then turn to mush but to eat them, not least being their very high fibre content. That’s going to push down the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and developing heart disease, and stave off any mid afternoon slumps. They have been shown to reduce the risk of both colorectal cancer, as their fibre binds with secondary bile acids, thereby reducing their concentration in the intestine, and stomach cancer due to their high phytonutrient levels, in particular cinnamic acids. They are also very easy to digest, if you really need another reason.

If you’ve got a massive glut though, you might not be able to eat them all, so you’ll be looking for other ways to deal with them. One of my favourite ways to use them up is in this gorgeous, super speedy, autumnal dessert. My son first learnt this recipe years ago, whilst in a childcare group on a french ferry and it’s been one of our staples ever since. Recently, I have seen more and more of these recipes around, lots of which will tell you to add butter and brown sugar to the pears, and some even state you should cook them first, but I really don’t see why you should mess with perfection and add more work, but if that’s your thing, give it a go and let me know how you get on.

Pear and Chocolate Crumble

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 To start off with you need to make your topping. Your basic crumble topping is always half fat to flour (although I think some people up this) which you rub in to make something which resembles bread crumbs. Or blitz quickly in a food processor to achieve the same result, but without the mess. Your butter needs to be ice cold, and diced into small pieces, and you can use whichever plain four you like. I have been using spelt recently, and I think it does the job fine. I also like my crumble topping to be a bit crunchy (not to mention a little better for you) so I use half flour and half porridge oats.

This crumble was to be for just four people, but rather than get everything out for that small amount, I made double topping. You can always freeze it, or make a delicious chocolate crumble cake, which I will post later, although I want to try adding some pear to that first to see it turns out. That means I used 240g of flour/ porridge oat mix and 120g cold butter. Once you have a mixture that resembles bread crumbs, stir through 120g of brown sugar.

Then peel, core and chop your pears into bite size pieces into the oven proof bowl you will be using to bake your crumble in. I used 5 this time, so it is roughly 1 per person. (I know, I was baking for 4, but it’s always good to have a bit extra). Then toss in around 60g of 70% cocoa solid fair fade chocolate, broken into small pieces.

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Sprinkle over your topping, remembering that you want a thinnish layer in this crumble. Then bake in a pre heated oven at around 180 degrees Celsius. It should take around 30 minutes, and it will be finished when it has a lovely golden brown colour to it.

Serve with creme fraiche, vanilla ice cream, or if you are feeling decadent (as I usually am come dessert time), clotted cream.

Now, if you’ve still got lots left over, I find freezing them (already peeled, cored and quartered) very quickly on a baking sheet for around half an hour is always a good option. After the half an hour is up, take them off the sheet, bag them up and put them back in the freezer for use in later crumbles. That is, of course, if you don’t want to use them to make pear schnapps, my second favourite thing to do with bags full of pears.

Pear schnapps is dead easy, and just involves peeling, quartering and slicing around five pears or so into a litre of 40% unflavoured spirit (as usual, vodka would be a good choice) in something like a kilner jar. Leave in a dark place for the flavours to develop for a couple of months, shaking the jar every week or so. When the requisite time has passed, strain your schnapps and away you go. A litre of pear schnapps to drink as you see fit, or if you’re leaning towards something a bit more unusual than another gin and tonic, try the recipe below.

Pear Martini

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Now I don’t know if this really counts as a martini, but it certainly counts as a great way to use that schnapps you just made, and is a lovely fruity cocktail, perfect for when you’re preparing the sunday roast.

The quantities couldn’t be simpler, and sticking these ratios you can mix up however many you want.

In a cocktail shaker combine one part triple sec, two parts pear schnapps and 3- 4 parts fresh apple juice (depending on how strong you like it). Shake with lots of ice, and then strain into a cocktail glass.

Add a slice of lemon, and enjoy!

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