I’m not ready for pears yet. I’m still trying to get my fill of peaches, corn* and juicy ripe tomatoes. You know, the summer stuff. Turning my attention to pears and apples feels like packing away my summer sandals before I’ve even had a chance to wear them. But even though I’m not ready for pears yet, the pears are definitely ready for me. The little pear tree in our backyard has already dropped about sixty of them. They drop on the ground one at a time with a little thud, and roll down the stone path towards the house, practically knocking on the kitchen door. They can no longer be ignored. It’s time to get cooking.
Pear Ginger Walnut Muffins
Makes one dozen medium-sized muffins. Recipe adapted from Applesauce Spice Muffins recipe on Epicurious, which are also delicious, and one of my favorite recipes for when the apples start falling off our tree–which I hope won’t happen until I’ve figured out what to do with all these pears.
For pear ginger sauce:
2 cups diced pears from about 4 small, ripe pears. I’m not 100% sure what variety my tree is, but I think it’s Bartlett or something similar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons grated ginger (I keep my peeled ginger root in the freezer and grate it with a microplane when I need it, which tends to make the gratings a little fluffy. So if you’re using fresh, unfrozen ginger, you might want a little less)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 cup pear ginger sauce
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
Make pear ginger sauce:
Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. When butter is melted and frothy add pears, tossing with a wooden spoon to coat. Add 1/2 cup of sugar, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Add grated ginger and cook over low heat for about 15 minutes, until pears are soft and most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove from heat and allow to cool for at least 15-20 minutes. You can make the pear ginger sauce ahead of time and store it in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for a few weeks. The quantities listed here are perfect for one batch of muffins, but I usually double or triple the pear sauce recipe and keep some in my freezer for the next batch of muffins, or to serve over crepes, french toast, or ice cream.
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Grease muffin pan.
Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, ground ginger, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together eggs and sugar in a large bowl until combined well, then add butter whisking or blending with electric mixer until creamy. Stir in pear ginger sauce, then fold in flour mixture to combine. Stir in nuts and divide batter among muffin cups.
Make topping and bake:
Stir together sugar and ground ginger and sprinkle on top of muffins, along with chopped walnuts. Bake until muffins are golden and toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 5 minutes, then remove muffins from pan and cool slightly. Enjoy with coffee, preferably barefoot in a sunny spot in the backyard, because the apples are coming soon and you might not be able to get away with this much longer.
Once cooled completely, the muffins can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature 1 day, or in the freezer for about a week.
*Speaking of corn, even though all 19 people who read this blog are surely sick of hearing about it by now, I would be remiss not to devote a little space on this page for a squeal of delight at my recent win on Food 52. It’s been ridiculously and disproportionately thrilling to be publicly recognized for something I love to do so much. Just a few months ago, I set myself on a path to devote a little more time and energy to this passion of mine, just to see where that path might take me. Hence this blog, the contests, some fun coffee dates with professional foodies and lots of kitchen daydreaming. The encouragement I’ve received from friends, family and even strangers around the world who share my passion is intoxicating. Thank you all for being a part of that.