One of my favorite things about cooking is finding flavor compliments. I recently planned this little dessert around a deliciously spicy cookie, Ina Garten’s Ultimate Ginger Cookie. The cookie is thick and soft and incredibly flavorful, with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger. Amazing.
On her show, Ina paired the cookies with farm-fresh peaches. Peaches aren’t exactly in season right now, so I went with another flavor I love with ginger: pears. Firm Bosc pears that I poached (per Alton Brown) with a vanilla bean and white wine, then reducing the liquid into a smooth syrup.
Finally, I added something creamy: champagne gelatto, which I bought at Fresh Market (I don’t have THAT kind of time). Another creamy ice cream would be good, such as amaretto or vanilla. Get creative!
The result was a lovely and elegant dessert that would be beautiful to serve at an Oscar party.
Let’s start with the cookies…
Spicy Ginger Cookies
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/3 cup unsulfured molasses
- 1 extra-large egg, at room temperature
- 1 1/4 cups chopped crystallized ginger (6 ounces)
- Granulated sugar, for rolling the cookies
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger, and salt and then combine the mixture with your hands. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the brown sugar, oil, and molasses on medium speed for 5 minutes. Turn the mixer to low speed, add the egg, and beat for 1 minute. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula and beat for 1 more minute. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the bowl and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the crystallized ginger and mix until combined.
Scoop the dough with a large spoon, roll each cookie into a ball and then flatten them lightly with your fingers. Press both sides of each cookie in granulated sugar and place them on the sheet pans. Bake for exactly 13 minutes. The cookies will be crackled on the top and soft inside. Let the cookies cool on the sheets for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Now, for the pears…
Vanilla Poached Pears
- 1 bottle white wine (pick one with fruity, pear flavors)
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 1 whole vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 4 firm Bartlett, Anjou or Bosc pears, peeled leaving the stem intact
Place the white wine, water, sugar and vanilla bean and pulp into a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil.
Slice a small piece off the bottom of the pears, so they stand up. I don’t have a mellon-baller, so I didn’t core them. But you could! Decrease the heat to medium low and place the pears into the liquid, cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the pears are tender but not falling apart. Maintain a gentle simmer. Remove the pears to a serving dish, standing them upright, and place in the refrigerator.
Remove the vanilla bean from the saucepan, increase the heat to high and reduce the syrup to approximately 1 cup of liquid, approximately 20 to 25 minutes. Do not allow the syrup to turn brown. Place the syrup in a heatproof container and place in the refrigerator until cool, approximately 1 hour.
To serve it all, place the pear on a nice dish, then spoon over the syrup. Add a couple of cookies and two scoops of gelatto or ice cream.
Enjoy, friends! xoxo