It's the middle of summer here, and for us that means trips to the beach, spending time with family and friends, and eating. A lot. And mostly snack food. We are BIG fans of cheese platters in particular...crackers, pate, relishes and lots of delicious cheese. I recently had my mind absolutely blown by a combination that I haven't been able to get out of my head. Blue cheese and fruit paste. It was amazing! The saltiness of the blue cheese combined with the sweetness of the fruit paste...a match made in heaven!
But when you're paying $8+ for a nice blue cheese and $7 for a 100g pack of fruit paste...it's turning into a pricey little platter! So in the spirit of the homemade challenge I thought I would attempt a fruit paste...I'll leave the blue cheese to the professionals! We had tried a few different fruit pastes...fig, quince, pear...so I opted for the most readily available, and familiar - pear. The recipe was very straight forward - peel and chop the pears and blend them into a puree
add sugar and spices
and boil for about 15 minutes until it is thick and darkens in colour.
Let it cool slightly, then pour into moulds and allow to set in the fridge
I made 6 individual pastes in muffin tins...the recipe recommended lining the tins with glad wrap but I was a bit worried about pouring hot paste into plastic so I used cupcake wrappers which I think added a nice colourful touch to the platter...don't you think?
We trialled the paste this weekend on a girls weekend away and the verdict was that it was a winner! Especially when served with a platter and a jug of Pimms punch!
I used quite a lot less sugar than the recipe called for, which meant that the paste didn't completely set. In saying that, it was still a nice thick consistency, perfect for spreading on crackers and I'm glad I cut down on the sugar as it was plenty sweet enough as it was.
So there you have it - about $4 for the pears, less than $1 worth of sugar, and not much for the spices - it cost less to make 6 x 85 gram pastes than it would to buy 1 from the supermarket...winning!
Spiced Pear Paste
- 500 g pear flesh about 4 large pears
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 350 g white sugar
- ⅛ tsp ground cinnamon
- ⅛ tsp ground cloves I used a few whole cloves and pulled them out before pouring into the moulds
- Line 6 muffin tins with cupcake wrappers. Peel pears, remove cores and cut into quarters.
- Place pears in a blender or food processor and process to a smooth puree.
- Place puree, lemon juice, sugar, cloves and cinnamon in a large saucepan. Cook, stirring over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to a full rolling boil (a boil that cannot be stirred down). Boil, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes or until mixture thickens to paste and darkens in colour. Be careful at this point as the mixture can be quite angry and splattery...and it's HOT!! Remove from heat and set aside for 5 minutes.
- Pour mixture into prepared tins. Smooth surface. Set aside overnight at room temperature to allow mixture to set firmly.
- To serve, take paste out of the tins and put it in the centre of a delicious looking platter - preferably with blue cheese!
- STORAGE TIP - The paste will keep for 3 months, wrapped in plastic wrap, stored in the fridge.
Recipe adapted from the Chelsea Sugar website.