Last week I attended a jam making demo at the Whole Earth Center, given by Marisa McClellan, author of Preserving by the Pint. During the hour she spoke to us and answered questions (oh, so many questions), she whipped up a batch of her pear-chocolate jam, using a skillet, an induction “burner” and this handy-dandy “4th Burner Pot” with a basket to preserve the jam in a water bath. While the jam recipe is on her blog, the version she made at Whole Earth Center was even easier, so I’m sketching it out here; it made just over a pint.
1 1/2 pounds unpeeled pears, cored and cubed (Bartlett or Bosc, which are thin-skinned)
3/4 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split & seeds scraped
1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
Juice of half a lemon, or to taste
Combine pears and sugar in a skillet and cook, stirring frequently, until liquid has boiled off and the sugar gels, as described in next paragraph. Add vanilla bean seeds partway through.
Cook the pear/sugar/vanilla mixture until it achieves a “stained glass window” set. You can use a spatula (she used silicone) to test that; when you lift it from the pears, the syrup should gel after a moment on the cooling spatula, rather than run off cleanly.
Mash the pears (use a potato masher) and add the cocoa powder, stirring in well. Add lemon juice to taste, to balance sweetness. Remove from heat. Pack into small sterilized jars and seal. You can store these in the refrigerator for about a month, but for longer storage, process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, being sure to follow canning instructions on Ms. McClellan’s website or in the book, or your jars’ manufacturer instructions.
These would be lovely for a holiday brunch, or late afternoon tea on a snowy afternoon. And in the book, there’s even a recipe for a quick tart you can make with the preserves. Heaven!