Pears. This month’s Cooks in the Kitchen Challenge is all about Pears.
Cue excited leap of joy from this baker. I love baking with pears. They’re some of my favorites because they’re versitile like apples but just different enough to make it exciting. One of my top-ten desserts of all time is a pear crisp I had at Old Ebbitt’s years ago. It’s one of those things I fell in love with instantly and have never forgotten. And also have never been able to perfectly duplicate, but the hunt is still on.
When it came time for this month of the challenge, I initially wanted to do a pear crisp but I just wasn’t feeling up to another attempt (and probably failure) at an Old Ebbitt’s reproduction. Side note, if any of y’all have that recipe – send it over. Or just mail me some. Or both.
So I thought and thought about what to make. Pear muffins? Did those. Pear tart? Too breakfast-y. Pear cookies? Eh – I just did apple ones. Pear applesauce? I made some and it’s fantastic but applesauce kind of has a mind of its own and writing down a recipe is pretty much impossible.
So I then thought about what I like to eat. There are really two main groups: bread pudding and cheesecake. Oh, and apple pie. And pear crisp. And Oreos. Okay, so 5. But the first two to pop into my head were the bread pudding and cheesecake. The pear bread pudding idea is a keeper but I’m tabling that one for the time being. The cheesecake idea got me thinking of my very favorite cheesecake of all time. Which got me back to thinking about pear crisp. So why not combine the two into one glorious gluten-free cinnamon-y pear crisp cheesecake creation?!
OH MY HEAVENS. Can we talk about heaven in cheesecake form?! It exists. But not for long because I’m literally eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and the only thing stopping me from continuing this way for the rest of my life is a cheesecake deficiency (aka – I ran out). But I plan to remedy that soon because my tastebuds need this deliciousness. Stat.
That was a small peek into what my brain looks like during recipe development and tasting time. Usually there’s also a lot of “shoot – I forgot what I put in this” and “oops – probably should have measured that” but you get the idea.
Anyway, make this cheesecake and make it right now.
- 1 1/4 C almond flour
- 1/2 C pecans, chopped
- 5 Tbsp butter, melted
- 3 Tbsp pure cane white sugar
- 1 Tbsp Saigon cinnamon (regular is fine, too)
- 3 8-oz pkgs cream cheese, room temperature
- 3/4 C pure cane white sugar
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 3 pears, peeled, cored, and sliced. I prefer them to be wafer-thin but chunks work fine if that's more your thing
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 Tbsp Saigon cinnamon
- 1/4 C pure cane white sugar
- 1/4 C pure cane brown sugar
- 1/3 C oat flour
- 1/3 C chopped pecans
- 4 Tbsp cold butter
- Thoroughly mix all crust ingredients together and press into spring-form pan. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and allow to cool but leave oven at 350F.
- Blend filling ingredients (yup, just throw 'em in there and turn the mixer on) until smooth and creamy
- In microwave-safe bowl, mix together pears, cinnamon, vanilla, and lemon juice. Microwave or 1 minute, stir, and microwave for another minute. This is just to soften the pears a bit before baking.
- In small bowl, combine sugars, oat flour, and pecans. Cut in butter until thoroughly mixed and crumbly (some pea-sized pieced of butter are okay)
- Pour filling on top of cooled crust, then top with the pears. Top all of that with the mixture from step 4.
- Bake in a water bath at 350F fir about 45-60 mins. That's kind of a large time gap, I know, but cheesecakes are tricky so start watching it carefully around 40 minutes (but try not to open and shut the oven door often) and then use your best judgment from there. The cheesecake shouldn't be sloshy or soupy in the middle but should barely jiggle when done and the topping should be nice and golden and crisp. When done, turn off oven but don't remove cheesecake. The secret to cheesecake, or so i've been told, is to cool gradually. Leave in oven for 15 mins, then move to countertop for about 45 mins, and then to fridge to cool completely.
- Serve chilled. If you can wait that long. If not, it's pretty good warm, too. It's been tested and approved at all temperatures by impatient bakers.
- This recipe is for one 9-inch cheesecake. I made these in my mini cheesecake pan and divided everything by 1/3 (16 oz of cream cheese instead of 24, etc) and it fit perfectly.
- I also really, really love cinnamon so get ready for a cinnamon round-house to the face with these pears. If you're not as much of cinnamon lover, I'd tone is down a bit. And probably stay away from the Saigon variety.