Well, like I’ve told you before, I don’t like pears. As a matter of fact I downright DISLIKE them. I know, I know. I wanted to like them. But I don’t (just like how I desperately wanted to like oatmeal & soft-boiled eggs too…).
However this time of year I’m starting to think about what preserves, jellies & jams I’ll be gifting people for Christmas, and I happen to know a decent amount of folks who quite enjoy these oddly-shaped little fruits.
For some reason, this striped towel just reminds me of pears- is that weird?
When I happened upon gorgeous pears at my local market for .79¢ a pound, I knew I had to get them & use them up ASAP. For that price I could’ve gotten a gazillion- but again, I don’t like them. They were selling Bartlett, Bosc & Seckel all for the same low price. I got about 3 lbs. of a Bosc/Bartlett mix and it cost me less then $3.00. Amazing. Who says fruit has to be expensive?
Anyway… once I got them home I started looking in earnest for ways to use them in either baked goods or in relatively small-batch preserves/jams. My mother & I ended up making some pear fritters with 2 of them, however I knew the rest would have to be used sooner rather than later. I had made pear sauce with cardamom last year, and I wanted something a bit different than your average jam. I found this recipe over at Food In Jars & I knew it was the one. It’s adapted from an English book, Notes From the Jam Cupboard by Mary Tregellas. It’s a dark chocolate pear jam.
Or preserves, in my case.
According to Marisa at Food in Jars:
I’m certain that this jam will raise some safety flags for some of you out there, but according to the reading I’ve done, I believe it is safe for canning (I added a boiling water bath step that isn’t included in the book). Good dark chocolate (which is what I used) is made without the addition of milk solids, so there’s no dairy in this product. The amount of sugar in the recipe will help keep it safely preserved for some time.
There is some reason for caution on the pH front, though. Chocolate is quite low in acid. However, most pear varieties have enough acid for safe canning (though not asian pears) and the recipe includes the juice of two lemons. If using fresh lemons for acid balancing makes you uncomfortable, you can substitute bottled lemon juice (a medium lemon averages 3 tablespoons of lemon juice). When I made my batch, I added the juice of 2 1/2 lemons, which gave me a full half cup.
All that being taken into account: I used bottled lemon juice, and 100% Ghirardelli cacao (from this baking bar). I could’ve used any percentage over 70%, but know my mother enjoys very dark chocolate; I figured the extra, extra dark would be a nice contrast to the pears in addition to being the absolute safest chocolate option. Like I said, I used Bosc & Bartlett pears, so the acid level (especially with the lemon juice) was definitely more than decent. I also left my pears on the chunky side, & they didn’t quite cook down completely, so that’s the reason it’s more a preserve than a jam.
PEAR & CHOCOLATE PRESERVES (from Food in Jars)
Yield: 5-6 half pints (batches vary)
- 2 1/2 pounds ripe pears (approximately 7-8 pears)
- 2 lemons, juiced
- 3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 5 1/2 ounces good quality dark chocolate (70% minimum, higher is better)
- Prepare a boiling water bath canner and 5-6 half pint jars.
- Peel, core and chop pears. Place them in a wide, non-reactive pan with the lemon juice and 2 tablespoons water.
- Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until pears begin to soften and break down.
- While pears cook, chop chocolate and set aside.
- Once pears are quite soft, add sugar and cinnamon. Increase heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring regularly, until the jam reached 220 degrees F.
- Remove the pot from the heat and scrape in the chocolate. Stir until it is fully melted.
- Funnel into prepared jars. Wipe rims, apply lids and rings and process for 10 minutes.
- When time is up, remove jars from canner and place on a folded kitchen towel to cool.
- Once jars are fully cooled, test seals. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly. Sealed jars can be stored jars can be stored at room temperature for up to one year.
This is NOT your average jam. It’s a really decadent, dessert-like preserve. It’s more like a chocolate sauce you’d put on a cake or ice cream than a breakfast addition. But I’m sure if you enjoy sweets, then you’ll love it on toast or English muffins too!
Although I have to say, if you’re a fan of overnight oats, it might be amazing if you stirred some of this into it. Or, just plop it onto a bowl of fresh, hot oatmeal.
It also makes a fantastic gift for the holidays. Some of this in a pretty little Quattro Stagioni jar, with some fancy ribbon? Add a nice label or tag & you’re all good. Perfect.
More easy “Gifts in Jars” ideas: