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”).
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.
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).
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).
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.
Edited to add: I’ve received some feedback to this recipe, questioning the safety of adding the chocolate solids. If it gives you pause, try using 3/4 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder in place of the bar chocolate.
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.
Pear and Chocolate Jam
- 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.
Hmmm… Chocolate doesn’t need to be low-acid. I wonder if the taste of the non-alkali processed chocolates would work as well here. (you can get some tasty ones in the latin american section of the Supreme Thriftway at 43rd & Walnut)
Mmm pears. I never manage to not eat them long enough to preserve them, but this is a delightful-looking recipe.
That’s a really great idea, Livia. I will look into it!
I cannot wait to try this jam! It’ll have to wait a bit, as I have 16 pounds of red bell peppers to deal with first… but then, I’m making croissants and this jam!
this looks awesome, I once canned up a made up recipe of mine-made a strong tea with chocolate mint, then added in darkest cocoa powder, along with a little sweetening, used the sugar free pectin-I had no problems with it, still have a few jars that are 2 years old now
This looks amazing! I’m drooling now!
Looks incredible! Have you any suggestions, or have you made any adjustments, for Pomona pectin? I am trying to eliminate much of the sugar (white) in my recipes and move toward Pomona’s. Love your site and book, please keep up the good work.
oh. my. god. this is glorious.
It would be really cool to have a good pH meter for the kitchen. I did a cursory search but could only find guidelines and no reviews of various meters compared for the best accuracy and value.
Maybe you could get some of the manufacturers to supply sample units for testing! Then, you could publish your findings…
The pear and chocolate combo sounds excellent!
Oh.My.Goodness.Gracious! I will be trying this recipe soon! Hopefully this weekend, after I finish making marmalade and other versions of preserved citrus. I have pears that were picked fresh from my parents’ tree last September that I have peeled (yay!), cut up, treated with citric acid and mixed with a little sugar before freezing… I’m trying to clear out my freezer now, so the timing of this post couldn’t be more perfect! I also need to get this book, too. Research, you know!
Mmm, looks heavenly. I, like Letty, am clearing out my freezer of last summer’s fruit bounty. Been making lots of berry jam the last couple days. Have you ever tried the Chocolate Raspberry Sundae Topper sauce in the Ball (Complete Book of Home Preserving) book? It is amazing over ice cream. If anyone is at all concerned about the safety issues with chocolate, I have frozen the choc./raspberry sauce (using blackberries instead), in jars, with fine results. Now, onto printing out the chocolate pear recipe you posted. Thank you, she says, happily.
I had to come back and let you know I ordered this book-it just looked like an excellent read-thanks for the reference Kathy
Beautiful! Delectable post and recipe. Love your images too.
As I have worked with fruits & vegetables & jars I have found myself at times looking for a sense of comfort and community as I wrestle with doubts (pH, etc.) and crave inspiration. Thank you for this post (the first of yours I have read).
My curiosity has been sparked! Thank you for sharing your talents.
Oh. My. GOODNESS!!!!! I will definitely be making this in the very near future. Then I’ll need to make some brioche (darn! ha!) Could you use unsweetened chocolate — I have a bunch of Guittard Oban Liquior wafers (unsweetened chocolate disks). Just curious.
Perfect, my walking cooler has a huge case of Conference pears that I was about to start preserving. This will be a fun recipe to try. Now I just need that recipe for Speedy Pear and Chocolate Tart! I’ve added this cookbook to my wishlist. Thanks!!
Perfect, I have a huge case of Conference pears from our orchard that I was going to start preserving. Now I just need that recipe for Speedy pear and chocolate tart to sell at the farmers market. I have added the cookbook to my wishlist–according to the description on Amazon, it sounds like a good read (the author got her degree in Medieval German at Oxford!). Thanks!!!
Yum! I can picture spreading this on buttermilk biscuits for a delicious dessert! After buying your book, I have wanted to make everything you make! Seriously! Can’t wait to make this soon!
Two of my favorite flavors in a jar! This looks ridiculously good. And I’ve got just enough jam jars that I can make a batch for my wedding favors too! Awesome recipe!
FYI, the book has been published in this country under the name “Homemade Preserves and Jams” – same book, same author, same recipes, but a different cover. Maybe the publishers figured Americans wouldn’t know what a “jam cupboard” was? The recipes and canning techniques don’t follow what we would consider safe practices here, but they look delicious and most could likely be processed in a boiling water bath.
Thanks Cory. I saw that book, but wasn’t sure if it was the same thing, primarily because Homemade Preserves and Jams seems to have about 10 fewer recipes than Notes from the Jam Cupboard. I wonder what they pulled?
What an unexpected combination, but sounds sooo good!
Any thoughts about other fruits that might substitute for the pears? I know pears are lovely but I just can’t get next to them…
Come early summer, strawberries would be nice. Raspberries are also a traditional pair with chocolate. I can’t think of any other fruit that’s in season right now that would work, though.
I did a French Canadian recipe this summer of blueberry-chocolate jam. Mostly the same idea. Wow is it glorious!! Warmed up over vanilla ice cream or as a sauce for bread pudding. Also great on waffles and occasional morning fares lol it is indeed very sweet 🙂
Delectable post and recipe. Pear and chocolate jam has been a firm fav of mine for years, but it’s been a while since I’ve made it, will need to make some soon.
I am so making this for the next food swap! And of course I’ll save some for myself. This would probably taste great as a topping for vanilla ice cream.
Believe it or not, just yesterday I pulled out all of my long forgotten canning supplies and jars ….. to give it all away. Then you somehow showed up in my FB timeline. Pears and chocolate? Grapefruit jam? I’m thinkin’ my supplies are staying here after all, and time to get back to it. Thanks so much for the inspiration!
Dear canning friends….you can slip the skins from pears. i’m not kidding. We’ve been doing it for years. just give them a quick blanch in boiling water spiked with vinegar. I dont usually measure, using the ‘give it a good glug’ system of measurement. Try a quarter cup of white or cider (or anything 5%) per 2 gallons?
Pop the pears in 5 or 6 at a time, give them 10 – 30 seconds, depending on how soft they are. Then 30 second in an ice bath and they slip their skins just like tomatoes.
Makes it pretty easy to tear through 60 pounds of pears in a day.
make that 1/4 cup vinegar per gallon of water
thanks for the tip!! i can’t believe i’m just learning this trick now…
I’m so happy to see you’ve done some experimenting with a recipe like this and are sharing your findings! I read several recipes last fall for using dark chocolate in jams and thought they sounded deliciously exciting, but a bit beyond me at the moment. Now I may have to give this a go. I think I saw one for blueberries and chocolate, but I believe they have a bit less acidity than pears. Hmmm….
This sounds amazing! My mind is pretty much blown by the idea of using dark chocolate in jam recipes. Can’t wait to try this with other fruits as well!
This looks delicious!
Have you ever seen the book “Mes Confitures: The Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber”? I checked it out from the library but I wasn’t confident her methods and recipes were safe.
I’ve made a few recipes from that book and am still here to write about it. She also has a chocolate raspberry sauce that never quite gets used as a topping in my house. I eat it straight from the jar with a spoon.
That sounds incredible. Making it this week!
i forgot to peel the pears first and my jam came out super-thick. did leaving the skins on have something to do with this, or was it just one of those “this time the jam came out a bit thick” sort of things?
The peels shouldn’t impact the texture. It’s probably that you cooked it a minute or two longer than it needed. The chocolate also makes for a slightly thicker than normal jam, too.
yes, the peels contain pectin. When you left the peels on you increased the pectin of the batch.
It’s cheating a little but I’ve used “buttery flake” crescent rolls to make mini apple pies and I’ll bet this would make an incredible substitute for the apple pie filling!
This is amazingly good. I used standard unsweetened baker’s chocolate (100% cacao) and I think it did the trick on the sweetness issue. Don’t get me wrong – still sweet – but not cloying. Almost scorched it but caught it in time. I got four 1/2 pts. I don’t know if I can share this one – it’s too delicious. Also – FYI – each 1/2 pt is about 1000 calories a jar (which means a 1/4 of the jar is 260 cals – for those of you who watch that. And trust me, you’ll eat a quarter of the jar….). Can’t wait to try this in between cake layers or even added to a smoothie.
Just made this. Delicious! Thanks!
Yikes! I used Green & Black’s 70% cacao chocolate, grated, and it seized, so I ended up with essentially pear-chocolate chip jam. I _could not_ get the chocolate to smooth out – I stirred, I stopped stirring, I moved it off direct heat to a double boiler, added a dribble of grapeseed oil and wrote off shelf-storage (but still BWB-ed for longer fridge life before opening, used 4oz jars instead of 8oz), cooled it… I thought about breaking out the immersion blender but I didn’t want to aerate it. I did take down the sugar to a 2:1 fruit/sugar ratio which is still extremely sweet for my palate, and substituted a winemaker’s acid blend (citric/malic/tartaric, makes a nicer balance than citric alone when you don’t want the taste of lemon, lime or vinegar in a recipe – 1/2 tsp acid powder + 2 1/2 tsp water is equivalent to 1 Tbsp lemon juice) for the lemon juice since I do not care for lemon in my chocolate things. I also put the pears through the food mill once they were thoroughly cooked but before I added the chocolate – I just couldn’t get behind pear chunks in my chocolate. Instead I have chocolate chunks in my pear! Well over $10 in ingredients (I’d been waiting impatiently for the early pears at the farmer’s market, definitely not the $0.79/lb for imported from the supermarket), so I’m a touch peeved. It’s not inedible, it’ll be all right as a stir-in for Greek yogurt which will also counteract that extreme sweetness, but I was hoping to share it.
Input? I am tempted to do a somewhat “downscale” version using Trader Joe’s yummy dark-but-not-Dutched cocoa powder, rather than wrangling with solid chocolate. I wish Ghirardelli would do a dark/bittersweet version of their ground chocolate.
How can you expect it to turn out the same when you have changed so many ingredients? I have canned for several years and discovered that even cutting sugar down by 1/2 C greatly changes the jam and is definitely not recommended.
I’ve reworked several of Marisa’s other recipes to reduce the sugar and they’ve come out very well – I use Pomona’s pectin, as Marisa herself suggests in one of the Canning 101 posts (although Erica over at the Northwest Edible Life blog has worked up some tasty no-pectin jams using as little as 2oz sugar per pound of prepared fruit, take from that what you will). Considering how many of Marisa’s recipes are variations of/”inspired by” something else and she spent so much time in experimentation and troubleshooting failures, I would have hoped she might understand, especially since she has mentioned in other recent posts that she is also interested in reducing her sugar use. (As a side note, I have not had any problems in any other recipe using the acid blend in place of lemon juice when its taste is undesirable, and when you reduce sugar the flavor of lemon juice can become more prominent. The person who told me about it is a part-time extension agent who owns a jam-etc. business and so is a stickler for chemistry. I had been using ordinary citric acid, but the blend is more balanced and less harsh.)
I did look, but I have not seen another recipe for a spread combining pear and chocolate flavors that is not so nauseatingly sweet (yes, that much sugar really does make me sick to my stomach). If I had, I would have made that instead of this, since the usual snipe about problems with altering a recipe is “so use a different recipe”. Well, that’s just dandy with something ordinary like strawberry jam, what if there ISN’T a different recipe? Seems like that was the point of Marisa’s entire excellent book and much of this blog, that there wasn’t an existing recipe for what she wanted so she had to create it. If you know of a different recipe, I would surely love to hear about it.
I’m thinking the chocolate perhaps was overheated. My experience is seized or overheated chocolate is hopeless for anything where you want that lovely smoothness, and you might as well chuck it into a batch of brownies. Maybe pear brownies or cake or cupcakes?? You could use that as a gift rather than the jam. I wonder could you use it in a strudel or pastry?
Thanks for all the details with the winemaker’s acid. Did you try it again? I love the fact that you made the adjustment needed for it to work you. Try tempering the chocolate first (chocolate melts at around 110, as I’m sure you know). It might mean working with melted chocolate and another dirty bowl (sorry). I don’t think there is anything you can do once it seizes in the puree. Kinda like when a recipe calls for tempering an egg and you add it right in instead. Sometime you get lucky and it’s fine and other times you end up with scrabbled egg floating around.
Thanks for the giveaway opportunity. The pear jam looks interesting, but maybe a bit too sweet for my taste. Notes From the Jam Cupboard looks beautiful!
I made this, and OH how lovely. We saved a bit out from the canning, and gobbled it up on vanilla ice cream! Divine! 🙂
Oh my, Marisa! I’ve been obsessing over this jam for a while and we finally had a nice trip to eastern WA, where we found the Green Bluff Growers. They are a wonderful group of growers up there! Brought home some huge beautiful pears that I made into several batches of this jam for gifts and desserts. Simply divine…the whole family loved it.
I made this today. Instead of the splash of water I used coffee rum. The Red Bartlett pears added a nice reddish hint to the final product. I did end up needing to do a spin around the pot with the old “boat motor” but that might be due to the type of pear or me being in pain and impatience at standing at the stove. Hubby performed the quality check warmed over ice cream, “quite tasty!”
I love finding obscure and not the typical recipes that everyone tend to makes themselves to use as Christmas gifts. This one will definitely be added to the baskets this year. Thanks!
Have you ever tried this recipe using a different fruit? I’ve been doing research on a strawberry chocolate jam, and was wondering 🙂
Just made this with strawberries in for the pears and maple syrup (2 cups) in for the sugar. Added one vanilla bean. Heaven.
Swapping that much maple syrup in for sugar in this jam makes it unsafe for canning. Maple syrup is a low acid food. You need to put those jars into the refrigerator, as they are unsafe for shelf storage.
I have your first book and I have been frequenting this website for a while now, but I must say after doing this recipe tonight, I am impressed. So rich but so good. I am almost sad I canned everything but a spoonful as it now seems I am heading to hoarding status with the few jars I happened to get out of this. They will be hidden from the children and most certainly the wife. Bravo! Been wanting to do this one for a long time and now I am kicking myself I waited so long!
Would unsweetened chocolate work in this recipe? I know most unsweetened chocolate bars don’t have dairy in them. Just wasn’t sure if the lack of sugar in the chocolate would be a problem since there is already so much sugar in the jam.
Ive made a similar jam called Belle Helene that was in the Mes Confiture cookbook. Really wonderful.
Just finished making this and WOW it is amazing! Many Many Thanks!!!
Anyone except Jess try this with unsweetened chocolate?
I made it as above. It is too sweet, but it is totally awesome. In fact, it was going to be awesome before the chocolate – I tasted it. Spent thirty seconds too long away from the stove and scorched two small spots in the pan. Scraped it up and tasted it – caramel rather than carbon, so all was well. Makes me want to play the dangerous game of seeing how close I can get to caramel without ruining a batch of pear jam sans chocolate. In any case, next time, half unsweetened, I think.
Am awaiting my copy of the British book, eager to see the recipe that uses this. Purchased used on British Amazon – 5 pounds plus shipping, came out to $19.27, fourteen bucks cheaper than cheapest used copy on US Amazon.
Could you do this with blueberry’s instead of pears? This summer I’m going to try your blueberry jam recipe after picking them at a local farm. Also may be able to get my hands on some fresh pears (for this recipe) but thought about this with blueberries?
I made this today. Mine came out a lot more “runny” than I would have liked. Has anyone else had this happen?
If it’s too runny, chances are that it needed a minute or two longer on the stove.
Hi. I was wondering if you can substitute the chocolate with cocoa powder?
Yes. A recipe using cocoa powder is in my book, Preserving by the Pint.
Can this recipe be modified to use Asian pears? Those are the only fresh pears I can find here in southern Indiana.,
Unfortunately not. Asian pears are much lower in acid than the others and so don’t work in most jam recipes.
Great recipe! For the others in the comments asking, I used unsweetened baker’s chocolate instead of dark, kept the sugar the same, and found it to be perfect. It is intensely chocolatey and intensely fruity at the same time–a great and very unique taste.
Could you substitute rehydrated dried cherries for the pears? I’ve got a ton of dried cherries and I’d love to find a recipe I could make with chocolate. Would your new book have a recipe?
I don’t think it would work, but I don’t know for sure. You could always try it, but I can’t guarantee the results.
I wonder if raspberries would work
Oh, my! How do I get people to stop eating this with a spoon? I think I will need to hide my last jar. Better yet, I think I will just need to make another batch…
Any chance it would be safe to make this with other fruits like strawberries or raspberries? I enjoyed making this, and now I want to try more variations! Thanks for the fun recipe!!!!
Jumping Jehoshaphat, is this recipe ever delicious!! I forgot I made loads of this to give away but kept a few jars on hand . I just tucked into it to make a bowl of pistachio gelato even more indulgent. I’m just swooning over here!
It did really well heated up a little bit and turned into this glorious fudge topping without creepy additives and with the added sweet poetic softness of ripe pears. Now I understand why my cousin was raving about the jar I left with her of this lovely recipe!
Very grateful for all of your recipes, Marissa, and for sharing this one with all of us. You are so generous with your time and knowledge, and I sure appreciate it! Talk about an ideal year to have started canning and a great time to give this a taste. Thank you so much <3
I’m delighted to hear that you like it so much!
This sounds delicious!!
If substituting cocoa powder for the chocolate, do you add it at the same time or do you mix it in with the sugar?
I would mix it in with the sugar to prevent clumping.
One of my favorites….this with a cheese board..biscuits…espresso….ITs a delightful Sweet from the pears and chocolate…
I’m so glad that you like it!
Can the cocoa powder be increased?
I don’t recommend it. Increasing the cocoa powder can unbalance the acidity and render the finished product unsafe.