A Profusion of Pears and Spices

Autumn pears star in these cheesecake-like bars.

That’s just what you’ll find in these creamy-dreamy “Pear Cream Cheese Bars with Macadamia Nut Crust.”

They’re potent with ground ginger, cloves, cinnamon and coriander — a whole teaspoon of each. Whoa!

The fact that they’re so spice-heavy shouldn’t come as a surprise — not when the recipe comes from a cookbook with the name, “The Spice Kitchen, Everyday Cooking with Organic Spices” (Andrews McMeel) by Sara Engram and Katie Luber with Kimberly Toque. Engram and Luber have their own line of spices. And Toque was an assistant test kitchen chef at Lawry’s.

My friends who sampled the bars found the amount of spice overwhelming. I didn’t mind the pronounced flavor, except that it did make it very hard to actually taste the pears in these treats.

Next time, I think I would cut the amount of spice in half, which is how I’ve adapted the recipe below. Feel free to cut the spice amounts even more if you prefer.

The bars have a great interplay of textures — a crisp, nutty cookie foundation, then an almost cheesecake-like middle, followed by slices of fresh pears, and a quite sweet, thick layer of crunchy streusel on the very top. The flavor is reminiscent of a heady pear spice cake in a whole different guise.

After baking, the bars are refrigerated for at least three hours to firm up. Although you might be tempted to eat them out of hand, they’re a little messy that way, so don’t by shy about bringing out the plates and forks.

Pear Cream Cheese Bars with Macadamia Nut Crust

(makes 12 bars)

For crust:

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, softened

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 cup macadamia nuts, finely chopped

For filling:

12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 pears, peeled, cored

For streusel topping:

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground coriander

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease an 8-inch square or round baking pan. To make crust, cream butter and sugar in a medium bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in flour, ginger and cloves. Stir in macadamia nuts. Press crust mixture into bottom of the pan and bake for 15 minutes.

Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees. To make filling, beat together cream cheese and sugar in a large mixing bowl until smooth and creamy. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and vanilla. Slowly add egg mixture to cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth and creamy. Spread cream cheese mixture over crust. Arrange pears on top of cream cheese mixture.

To make streusel topping, combine flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and coriander in a small bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives until butter is evenly distributed in the flour mixture and the mixture is crumbly. Stir in macadamia nuts. Evenly sprinkle streusel topping over the pears. Bake the bars for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow bars to cool and then refrigerate for at least 3 hours before cutting and serving.

Adapted from a recipe published in “The Spice Kitchen, Everyday Cooking with Organic Spices”

More: The favorite pear of Chez Panisse

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Date: Wednesday, 28. October 2009 5:12
Trackback: Trackback-URL Category: Fruit, General, Ginger, Great Finds, Recipes (Sweet)

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22 comments

  1. 1

    Those bars look mighty delicious! A delightful combo!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. 2

    I think the spice amount sounds perfect (for me at least, haha ;) ). I too love pronounced flavors.

  3. 3

    A whole teaspoon of cloves does sound excessive, but macadamia crust, cream cheese filling, and streusel topping? I’m sold!

  4. 4

    wow… and I was just in the mood for dessert :)

  5. 5

    What a heady combo! Interesting.

  6. 6

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  7. 7

    Good to know about the amount of spices. I’m definitely intrigued but this but would probably cut the spices back. I love the combo of pears and macadamia nuts. It’s not one I often think of because usually macadamia nuts bring to mind mango and pineapple for me.

  8. 8

    With Autumn, I think comes the desire for more spices. Especially the cinnamon and clove that remind us of season. These bars sound delicious. Will have to look for some pears at the farmer’s market.

    You can find Smart Buy prices, product comparisons, nutritional information and coupons at SmartShopIt.com for pears.

  9. 9

    Lovely spices. And I love cream cheese with a streusel topping…

  10. 10

    This sounds fantastic! I wish I was eating this for dessert tonight, would indeed be a cosy treat :)

  11. 11

    macadamia crust? Cool, and with cream cheese! I think the overpowering spice may be a good idea for ppl who can’t control themselves and would gobble it all up otherwise, lol..;-)

  12. 12

    We just got several yummy looking pears in our CSA and now I know just what to do with them

  13. 13

    I like the sound of these bars–they sound so unusual. I’m not sure I’ve ever come across coriander in a baking recipe–I’m intrigued!

  14. 14

    Ummmm, such pure pear love.

  15. 15

    […] by nothingwitty I had some of my lady friends over Friday night and we made potato soup and this tart. It was good. I also tried Prosecco, which turns out is sparking and dry (yeah!) but neither of my […]

  16. 16

    I love all the ingredients in this recipe! Yummmmy!

  17. 17

    Thanks for sharing this- I made it (completely smashed) with my girlfriends and we didn’t let it cool properly but it was STILL delicious!
    Also I didn’t have cloves or ginger so I threw some allspice into the crust.
    Drunk baking= fun!

    I might add it was even more fantastic the next day:)

  18. 18

    Ariel: That is way too hilarious! I can just picture you guys doing this. I’m surprised you didn’t add a splash of vodka or pear brandy to the cream cheese bars, too! ;)

  19. 19

    […] from the Food Gal […]

  20. 20

    […] Pear Cream Cheese Bars with Macadamia Nut Crust: The bars have a great interplay of textures — a crisp, nutty cookie foundation, then an almost cheesecake-like middle, followed by slices of fresh pears, and a quite sweet, thick layer of crunchy streusel on the very top. The flavor is reminiscent of a heady pear spice cake in a whole different guise. From Food Gal. […]

  21. 21

    […] Pear Cream Cheese Bars with Macadamia Nut Crust: The bars have a great interplay of textures — a crisp, nutty cookie foundation, then an almost cheesecake-like middle, followed by slices of fresh pears, and a quite sweet, thick layer of crunchy streusel on the very top. The flavor is reminiscent of a heady pear spice cake in a whole different guise. From Food Gal. […]

  22. 22

    […] year, why not make a unique and truly scrumptious dessert for your Thanksgiving celebration? This Pear Cream Cheese Bar, made with crunchy and delicious mac nuts in the crust, will have your mouth watering all day. […]

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