Summer seems like the perfect time to bring back Shaina Olmanson’s 2013 book, Desserts in Jars. Filled with recipes that lend themselves to an extra-pretty picnic, or a backyard potluck on a warm evening, this book practically screams “school’s out!” There’s something wonderfully nostalgic and homespun to so many of the recipes. Who wouldn’t want Basil Strawberry Lemonade Granitas on the Fourth of July? In a jelly jar, no less.
But this isn’t a warm-weather-only cookbook. There are plenty of recipes to see you through the colder months. A little Pumpkin Cheesecake with a Gingersnap Crust by a crackling fire makes winter seem all the more palatable.
My problem is that I have trouble waiting sometimes. And since I live in an area where I often don’t have to, I tend to blur the lines when it comes seasonal baking.
We’re spoiled in California, I get that. Seasonal food is often a misnomer, with sometimes year-long availability for all things delicious. While that sometimes bothers me (the “I want what I want when I want it” mentality), I have to say I don’t fight it much. Because, truth be told, I like eating crisp apples all year long, and I like seeing lemons on our tree well into late Spring (and even Summer). And pears. Yes, pears are pretty much available around here from early summer into winter and right now they are tasting good.
So I’m not going to wait until fall to make this recipe (although I’ll be making it again then too!). And depending on where you live, you might not feel much like waiting either.
- 20 small pears, such as Forelle or Seckel varieties, or 10 medium-size pears, such as Anjou
- Juice of 1 lemon
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom (see Note)
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- Pinch of salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
- Make the filling: Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Core the pears and cut them into ¼-inch slices. Put the pear slices in a large bowl. Add the lemon juice and toss gently to coat the pears and keep them from browning. Mix in the sugar, cornstarch, and cinnamon. Fill six 8-ounce jars with the pears to ¼ inch from the top. Although ¼ inch might seem like too little room for the topping, note that the pears will cook down and some of the topping will drip down in between the pears.
- Make the topping: In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, oats, brown sugar, cardamom, ginger, and salt to mix well. Add the butter and use a fork to incorporate it into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly.
- Spoon the topping over the pears to cover, and use the back of the spoon to pack the topping down tightly. Place the jars 2 inches apart on a large baking sheet. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the pears are cooked through and the topping is light golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the baking sheet. Serve warm.
Recipe © 2014 by Shaina Olmanson and used by permission of The Harvard Common Press