The last recipe from my pear-picking adventure with Julia (in hot, hot summer sunshine that seems like ages away from today’s chilly, rainy damp) this sauce is about as easy as it gets. I took the last 6 and 1/2 pounds of teeny, tiny D’Anjou pears, simmered them in water to soften, pushed them through the food mill, and separated juice from pulp in a jelly bag. The juice became Pear Syrup with Fennel while the pulp? The pulp helped me do a little spring cleaning of the liquor cabinet.
Contrary to all appearances, given the number of boozy recipes on this site, we don’t actually drink a lot of liquor at home. We’re wine & beer (and champagne! always champagne) people, and while we enjoy those libations frequently, I can count the number of times I’ve whipped up an actual cocktail, outside of a party, on one hand. Yet there is always all this booze in the liquor cabinet: Kahlua, for the occasional winter coffee or cocoa pick-me-up; brandy and rum, for Christmas eggnog; amaretto, Chambourd, AND Grand Marnier, bought for some dessert recipe or other; vodka, gin and vermouth, because someone always brings martini fixins; and tequila, because you never know when you might need an emergency margarita. It’s handy, really, having all this booze around, because I can drop a few tablespoons into a jam, perk up a mustard, or douse cake layers that came out a bit too dry. But sometimes that last inch of syrupy, 5 year-old liqueur lingering in the bottle makes me crazy and this recipe is a sure cure.
I polished off the bottle of Kahlua, the bottle of Godiva chocolate liqueur and the last of the musovado sugar making this pear sauce. I don’t know why that should make me so happy, but it never fails. The recipe is quite adaptable; I think the warm, desserty liqueurs (coffee, chocolate, nut flavors) are an excellent flavor match, but if you want to experiment with pears, tequila and lime juice, I say go for it. This is how great recipes are born. Feel free to use whatever liquor has been hanging around in your cabinet for too long.
Processing time from Applesauce in the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, J. Kingry and L. Devine, eds.
- 6 and 1/2 lbs pears (I used D’Anjou)
- water to cover
- 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp lemon juice, divided
- 1 cup Kahlua
- 1/2 cup chocolate liqueur (I used Godiva)
- 1/4 cup amaretto
- 1/2 cup dark muscovado sugar, firmly packed
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/2 tbsp molasses
- pinch sea salt
- Add 1/4 cup lemon juice and about a quart of water to a large (8-quart) stockpot. Wash pears, halve or quarter them, remove stems, and add to stockpot. Add enough water to just cover pears. Bring the liquid in the pot to a boil over high heat; reduce heat and simmer, covered, until pears are very soft and beginning to fall apart, about 30 – 60 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, then transfer pears and liquid (in batches) to the bowl of a food mill; process through the mill collecting the pulp and juice into a large, heat-safe bowl. (Alternatively, drain pear chunks overnight in the refrigerator; then puree the drained chunks in a food processor, blender or immersion blender). Transfer the pear pulp and juice to a jelly bag or colander lined with several layers of dampened cheesecloth. Allow to strain, undisturbed, for at least 2 hours (or until you see no drips for at least 1 minute). . At this point you can store the pear pulp & juice, separately, in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
- Prepare canner, jars and lids.
- Transfer the pear pulp to a medium stockpot (4-quart) or Dutch oven. Add 1 cup of the pear juice (reserve the rest for another recipe; pear jelly or Pear Syrup with Fennel, or substitute with water). Add the Kahlua, chocolate liqueur, amaretto, lemon juice, sugars, molasses and salt to the pot. Stir well to combine. Bring to a ‘simmer’ (it won’t really simmer; it will just start to spit) over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes to allow flavors to blend. If the sauce is too thick, add a little extra water or pear juice to thin; if too thin, cook longer to reduce & thicken. Ladle hot sauce into hot, sterilized jars to 1/4-inch headspace. Pass a wooden utensil along the sides of the jars to remove any bubbles, wipe rims, affix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 20 minutes.
Yields about 9 cups.
- The mix of liqueurs that I used was pretty arbitrary and based upon what I had lingering in the liquor cabinet. I used up the last of the Kahlua and Godiva chocolate liqueurs, hence the three different varieties of booze in the sauce. You could add more or less alcohol (although I will warn you; this is pretty potent as is), use only one kind, or none at all, replacing with pear juice or water.
- The “sauce” came out pretty thick; some might call it butter. For a thinner sauce, plan to add more pear juice, water, or alcohol. You can also can it up thick, then thin at the time of use with a little extra booze.
- I used this as a filling for a combined me-and-Tai birthday cake; it was delicious, but the filling was completely absorbed by the cake, so while we enjoyed the moist, boozy flavor, there was no visible stripe of filling. Next time, I would layer the pear sauce in a sandwich of frosting to try to keep it intact.
Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year. Refrigerated, use within 1 month.
Late Summer into early Fall.