Thursday, September 3, 2015

Caramel Pear Jam (Toast Topper #63)

With the cooler weather and school days approaching all too quickly, I start thinking about the warmer flavours that pepper the cuisine in the last part of the year. Fall brings all the rich, earthy notes of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cardamom, the silky touches of vanilla caramel and dark butterscotch, the comforting mild sweetness of cooked apples and pears and the combinations of any or all of these that invoke the memories of evenings and lazy weekends in the family kitchen around a table of hearty food. The start of Fall for me always makes me think of my mom's ratatouille simmering on the stove, served over brown rice the first night, then repurposed into scrambled eggs and open-face "trencher" sandwiches for many breakfasts and brunches after. It was also the time of the year where homemade meatballs and spaghetti made their re-appearance at the table, when pancakes and French toast began to take precedence over crepes and waffles on Sunday morning, and hearty loaves of crusty bread would be roughly sliced and smeared thickly with peanut butter and dark honey or golden syrup for a breakfast treat or snack after a day of apple picking.

Those food memories are fondly tucked into the back of my mind now, and while the days of inch thick peanut butter on toast dripping with syrup are more or less behind me the yearning for that decadent caramel flavour still comes around now and then. Taking those memory cues as a guide, I started to make apple and pear sauces with brown sugar and a pat of butter at the end, then eventually devised this spicy, darkly sweet jam that had the long-cooked flavours of caramel and fruit crisp but without the dairy and fat of "true" butter and far less wait time. Now, smeared over a (modest) layer of peanut (or the current household favourite, almond) butter on grainy country bread, the spread is even better than a sundae and twice as nutritious!

By the way - this jam is not a one trick toast pony! For what its worth, a spoonful or two mixed with leftover rice (my favourite right now is "wild pecan" rice) and a little cashew or almond milk on the stovetop turns into heaven in a bowl for dessert, and smeared onto pancakes or even leftover tortillas with a scattering of chopped almonds makes for a decadent breakfast. How would you enjoy a spread like this?

Caramel Pear Jam

Caramel Pear Jam
Makes about 6 half-pint jars, 48 (2-tbsp) servings
1 (49g) package "No Sugar Needed" pectin
½ cup granulated sugar, divided
4 cups (about 8) diced peeled and cored pears
2 tbsp amber agave nectar or dark honey, warmed until liquid
2 cups packed dark brown sugar
¼ tsp allspice
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp caramel flavouring , optional
¼ tsp butter flavouring, optional
  1. In a bowl, combine the fruit pectin with ¼ cup of the granulated sugar, mixing well. 
  2. Add the pectin mixture to the pears in a large pot and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat, until the mixture comes to a full rolling boil. 
  3. Stream in the agave, followed by the remaining granulated sugar, brown sugar and spices.
  4. Stirring constantly, bring the mixture back to a full rolling boil. 
  5. Boil for exactly 1 minute, then remove from heat and stir in caramel and butter flavourings.
  6. Process 10 minutes in a waterbath.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 52.1
Total Fat: 0.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 3.7 mg
Total Carbs: 16.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 0.4 g
Protein: 0.0 g

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