Thursday, September 18, 2014

Cooking with GI. Dansk Mjød – More Dessert Recipe

Recipe Pairing Flavors:
Delicately delicious sipping mead, with aromas and flavors of ginger blended seamlessly with honey, that concludes in a minutes long finish full of warming ginger, alcohol and hops.

Want the breakfast recipe?
Here’s a link back to the Ginger Mead Granola.

Want the entrée recipe?
Follow this link to the Meaded Pork with Gingered Nectarines.

Want the dessert recipe?
Ginger Mead Raisin Oatmeal Cookies will take you right there.


Pears.  They’re just begging for pairing.

Why, they even have a name that sounds like two.  Pears and apples.  Pears and cheese.  Pears and pecans, walnuts, cinnamon or nutmeg.

Pears.  They're a natural, with not only a name, but a flavor personality that just disdains solitude.  So pair ‘em up.  But, if you're going to do the deed, it pays to be choosey, so you just might want to hold back a bit on that fish sauce and curry.

Those strong, strident flavors, why they just take over, and what kind of pairing partner is it that only does all the leading?  So, let your pears shine by filling their dance card with deep, autumnal flavors.  So, bring on the ginger and the dark brown sugar.  And to spice ‘em up nicely, bring on the honey ginger mead.

Now, it might not seem obvious, but mead and pears share more than just a flavor affinity.  They also share a quality that has to do with time.  While the mead ages in barrels to develop its flavors, pears are one of the few fruits that don't successfully ripen on the tree.  Instead, they’re harvested, but must be left out at room temperature before becoming fully ripe.  For only when harvested and allowed to ripen off the tree over time, can their sugars develop into a sweet and succulent maturity.

And also like mead, pears have a long and colorful history, with their cultivation in temperate regions extending back to antiquity’s remotest times.  Grown in China for over 3000 years, the pear was also cultivated by the Romans who ate them just like apples, either raw or cooked.

Pliny, the famous Roman historian recommended stewing them with honey, and might have paired his pears with the smallest taste of mead.

Now, the English word "pear" may have paired with the fruits by way of Aramaic, with "pirâ," meaning "fruit," tracing itself back to the verb "pra," meaning to “multiply or bear fruit."

And if so, it’s a name that’s also been fruitful, since today, over 3000 varieties are grown worldwide, but for our purposes, I'm relieved to say I'll only mention the most popular three. 

Say “pear” and what most people imagine is called a yellow Bartlett.  Also called Williams pears, they're the most popular summer variety and sport a classic bell shape.  Unique among pears since they change color when they ripen, they’re also extremely aromatic as they turn from green to golden yellow in color.  Sweet and creamy when allowed to fully ripen, they’re perfect for fresh eating or for drying or canning.

For a bit more kitchen savvy, consider the Anjou pear, that doesn't change color as it ripens.  Egg shaped with bright green skin, this variety from Belgium is the most popular of winter pears and when fully ripe is subtly sweet and juicy with a hint of citrus flavor.  And to check for that ripeness without a change in color to clue you, just gently press the fruit’s stem end, for when it yields to gentle pressure, your pear is ready for showtime to begin.

Available nearly year-round, the Anjou is a great all-purpose pear, since it's dense flesh holds up to baking, poaching, grilling or roasting and this culinary versatility makes them the “go to” pear for chefs.

And lastly, the densest flesh of all the pear varieties is the crisp and woodsy Bosc.  With long, tapering necks and cinnamon brown skins, their firm texture means they hold their shape well when heated, while their woodsy, spiced flavor stands up to strong spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or clove.

So, let's head into the kitchen with our Double Ginger Baked Pecan Pears.  For baking, an Anjou or Bosc is, most likely, the best way to go.  Use a Bosc if you prefer a firmer, crisper texture, while an Anjou will give you a softer and juicier result.

But, whichever you choose, you’ll have mead and baked pears.  It's a match made in heaven.  Caramelized sugars, ginger, honey and mead.  And you'll find that the addition of fresh ginger to the recipe provides not only a savory sweet heat that echoes the mead’s honey and ginger flavors, but also counterbalances the rich, dark flavors of caramelized sugar and pears. 

And with GI. Dansk Mjød in the recipe, it becomes a part of this flavor transformation that creates something greater than the sum of its parts.  Not mead, not pears, not honey or ginger, but a delicious flavor amalgam, and something worth savoring long after it's gone.


Serves 4

2 pears (Anjou or Bosc preferred)
1 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon fresh ginger (peeled, finely chopped)
  cup GI. Dansk Mjød

pecans (toasted and sliced)

Set rack to mid-oven and preheat to 425°F

Combine the sugars and fresh ginger and set aside.

Peel, core and  halve the pears, then arrange them, cut side down, in a large pie plate or gratin dish.  Sprinkle the sugar mixture evenly over the fruit, then slide into the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until pears are tender when pierced with a knife.

Remove from oven, add the mead, then return to the oven to bake for another 6-8 minutes.

Serve warm, sprinkling each serving with the toasted pecans.  If desired, top with a dollop of ginger mead flavored whipped cream.

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