Did you know December is national pear month? December is the time of year where most of the pears we consume here in the northern states are being harvested. If you’re like me, the cold winter weather always puts me in the mood to bake something warm and comforting. Pears are a very versatile fruit as they can be eaten whole, chopped up in a salad or baked into a tart. Not only are they enjoyed many ways, but they also pack a punch with their nutrient and health benefits!
Benefits of Pears
Pears are very high in vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium and are an excellent source of antioxidants. Antioxidants are great anti-inflammatories and provide high levels of immune support- which is especially important this time of year! Alongside the numerous vitamins a pear can deliver, they are low calorie and have no added sugar. Pairing this fruit with a fat or protein source like almonds or string cheese would make a great balanced snack.
One thing that’s important to note is that most of the nutrients found in pears are found in the skin. Choosing to leave the skin on the pear is the best option if you want to gain all the nutritional benefits this bright green gem can offer. Pears generally have a softer skin than apples when fully ripe, but both fruits offer positive health contributions.
Types of Pears
There are thousands of different types of pears but only a handful of them are common in the United States. According to USA Pears, the most common pears consumed are Green Anjou, Red Anjou, Bartlett, and Red Bartlett. The Bartlett pear is one you are most likely to see in your local grocery store which makes it easily accessible and more budget friendly. As I mentioned before, pears are so versatile that they can be used in almost any dish.
One of my favorite recipes from USA Pears is their Maple Pecan Pear Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Icing. It’s the perfect hint of sweetness from the pears and maple that blends beautifully with the bitterness of the cream cheese icing. I have included their recipe below but be sure to check out their website for more great recipes!
Maple Pecan Pear Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Icing
For the cake:
1 c. vegetable oil
1 c. vanilla green yogurt
4 whole eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
¾ c. pure maple syrup
¾ c. light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 Tbsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3 c. all-purpose flour
2 Bartlett or Anjou Pears, finely chopped
1 Bartlett or Anjou Pear, shredded
1 c. toasted pecans, chopped
For the icing:
1 ½ c. powdered sugar
3 Tbsp. butter, room temperature
2 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
¼ c. maple syrup
1 Tbsp. vanilla coffee creamer
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray a Bundt pan generously with non-stick baking spray.
In a large mixing bowl whisk together the oil, Greek yogurt, eggs, vanilla, maple syrup and brown sugar.
Add the baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and whisk until combined. With a spatula, gently fold in the flour, chopped and shredded pears and the pecans just enough for the mixture to come together but being very careful not to over-mix.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.
Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes.
Remove the cake from the pan and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, prepare the icing:
In a small mixing bowl beat the powdered sugar, butter, cream cheese, maple syrup and coffee creamer until smooth. Once the cake has fully cooled, drizzle the icing over the cake. Serve immediately.