Tag Archives | pear jam

Spiced Pear Jam

Earlier this fall, I found myself in possession of a lot of pears. I frozen some. I made a big batch of pear butter. And I made this jam, which I never managed to tell you about. Part of the reason it’s taken me so long is that I had some inner conflict going on about it. You see, I initially developed it for a demo event at which I called it Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pear Jam.

Now, I’m not someone who goes crazy for pumpkin pie spice in the fall (I’ve never even had a pumpkin spice latte, but that’s mostly because I don’t really dig sweetened coffee). But I’m not a hater either. In fact, when it comes to canning and baking, having a little jar of pre-mixed pumpkin pie spice is one of my favorite short cuts (I’ll often put a dash in my oatmeal as it cooks).

However, with Hanukkah upon us and Christmas hurtling ever closer, I came the realization that I’ve not posted a single new thing that you could make and share with your friends, neighbors, teachers, and family members. And in all the years that I’ve written this blog, not one has gone by where I didn’t serve up at least one holiday-centric preserve. So I’m getting over my hesitations and offering up this one.

Just to clarify, my reluctance wasn’t about the flavor (it was really whether to wade into the pumpkin spice pool). I gave a jar to a neighbor, who told me that it was the best jam she’d ever had. Everyone at the demo raved about it as well. It’s good. It’s easy. It’s quick. And if you can’t bring yourself to use the pumpkin pie spice, use a few dashes of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove (just go light on the clove!).

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Pear and Chocolate Jam

seven pears

Sometime last fall, I bought a copy of a British preserving book called Notes from the Jam Cupboard. I discovered its existence while skimming a list of recent cookbook imports and, justifying it as an important research material, promptly added it to my ever-growing canning and preserving library. I read through it as soon as it arrived and marked more than half a dozen recipes to try immediately (of course, immediately turned out to mean “sometime in the next six months”).

Notes From the Jam Cupboard

Of all the possible preserves and dishes I marked, there was one that stuck particularly fast in my memory. Pear and chocolate jam. As we all know, I have something of a weakness for pear jams (cardamom. vanilla. cinnamon. lavender.). I had to try a jam that has you melt nearly two bars of dark chocolate into a pot of pear jam that you’ve gently spiked with cinnamon. Truly, I couldn’t imagine how anything could sound more divine.

spread from book

I’ve spent more time than is rational thinking about this jam and have twice bought pears with the intention of making it. Finally, earlier this week, my stars aligned and I made a batch of this jam, exactly as written. It cooked up beautifully and made me realize that a jam made from peeled pears is slightly more refined and elegant than the ones I’ve often made (not that I’ll be peeling all my pears from here on out, but there are moments when it can be nice).

pouring chocolate

In her head note, Mary Tregellas says that this is a jam that “has a particular affinity with buttery things, such as brioche and croissants.” Having made a batch, I understand why she said this. This is an incredibly sweet jam. There are four parts sugar to five parts fruit, and then you add a mountain of dark chocolate.

This is not something you’ll probably want to smear on toast for breakfast each morning, but it would make an amazing glaze for a dense, barely-sweet chocolate cake or as a filling layer in an elegant tart (there’s even a tart recipe included in the book).

stirring chocolate

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.

finished pear choc jam

All that said, this is a lovely jam. It tastes a great deal like a slice of pear dipped into chocolate fondue. It’s a treat I’m happy to welcome into my pantry and I’ll be looking for ways to best use it going forward.

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