Maple Chai Hasselback Pears with Candied Pecans and Coconut Whip Cream

OH. EM. GEE. Baked pears slathered in a warm maple chai sauce sprinkled with crispy, crunchy pecans and dolloped with coconut whip cream…Staaappp.

This is a dessert that you can feel good about. It is paleo, vegan and gluten-free and therefore could just be replaced for tonight’s dinner and you are winning.

To hasselback something means to make a number of thinly-spaced slices which take on the job of sucking up all of the delicious sauces that will be poured on top, and in this case, it’s an aromatic maple syrup and chai spice hybrid. Holy Hannah.

To successfully hasselback your pears for this recipe, cut them in half and remove the core with your knife. Starting with one half at a time, place slice-side down between two chopsticks (or butter knives if you don’t have them) and use a sharp knife to cut slices all the way across the length of the pear. The chopsticks act as a stopper so that your slices don’t go all the way through the fruit.

The maple chai glaze starts with maple syrup and coconut oil in a small saucepan, whisked together with cinnamon, cardamom, ground ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg and some black pepper. Simmer for just a few minutes. You will see it thicken slightly. Turn off heat and finish off with some vanilla and flaky sea salt and then it’s ready for drizzling.

Brush some of the glaze on the pears and pop ’em in the oven to start tenderizing, about 15 minutes. Remove from oven and carefully (they are hot!) use your fingers to separate some of the slices so that you can brush even more glaze onto and into the pears. Bake for another 10-15 minutes until the pears are fork-tender.

Grab some pecans and give them a fine chop. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment and pop them in the oven to toast up real quick. Keep watch – you don’t want them to burn! After about 6-7 minutes, pull them out and toss them with a bit of brown sugar and either coconut oil (if you are vegan or paleo), or butter.

To prep for the whip cream, place a metal mixing bowl into the freezer with your wire beaters for at least 15 minutes before making this recipe. Place a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight or a few days for best results. This allows the full fat “cream” layer to separate from the more transparent “water” layer. We will only be using the cream for this recipe, but don’t throw away that precious coconut water that you find at the bottom of the can! You can blend it into smoothies or use it instead of almond milk in my Power Boosting Smoothie Bowl recipe!

Carefully scoop the cream into the bowl that was in the freezer. With your hand mixer, beat the cream for a minute. You should see it start to thicken. Add your vanilla and maple syrup (or honey) and beat for two more minutes until it resembles regular whip cream. Chill until ready to use.

Assembly time – Place your pear halves on a plate and top with pecans and whip cream. Drizzle with the extra maple chai glaze and thank me later.

Maple Chai Hasselback Pears with Candied Pecans and Coconut Whip Cream

Servings: 2

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe pears (Bosc or Bartlett), halved and cores removed

For the maple chai glaze:

  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of cloves
  • pinch of allspice
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch of flaky sea salt

For the candied pecans:

  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted (or butter, if not vegan)

For the whip cream:

  • one can of full fat coconut milk (I find the brand Aroy-d works well), chilled at least overnight
  • one tsp pure vanilla extract
  • one tbsp pure maple syrup (or honey, if not vegan)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place a metal bowl and wire beaters into the freezer.
  2. Prepare the pears by placing one half at a time, slice-side down, between two chopsticks (or butter knives). Use a sharp knife to cut slices all the way across the length of the pear. The chopsticks act as a stopper so that your slices don’t go all the way through the fruit. Set aside while you prepare the glaze.

For the maple chai glaze:

  1. Add maple syrup, coconut oil, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, cloves, allspice, nutmeg and a few grinds of black pepper to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Simmer for 4 minutes. It will thicken slightly. Remove from heat.
  2. Brush the glaze over the hasselback pears and place pears into the oven to bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from oven and use your fingers to separate the slices a little more (careful, it will be hot). Brush over more of the glaze, making sure it seeps into the grooves that you helped separate, and return to oven for another 10-15 minutes, or until fork tender. Remove and let cool for a few minutes.

For the candied pecans:

  1. Place the pecans on a small baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Toast in the oven alongside the pears for about 6 minutes or until fragrant. Watch carefully to avoid burning.
  2. Remove from oven and add brown sugar and coconut oil (or butter) to the nuts, tossing together. Set aside.

For the coconut whip cream:

  1. While the pears are baking, make your whip cream. Remove the can of coconut milk from the fridge. Open carefully and scoop out the solidified cream, placing into the metal bowl that was chilling in the freezer earlier. Do not add the water at the bottom of the can.
  2. Beat on medium speed for 1-2 minutes, until it has began to noticeably thicken up.
  3. Add vanilla and maple syrup and beat for another 2 minutes on high, until it resembles regular whip cream. Place back in the fridge to stay cold.

Assemble:

Place the baked pears onto a plate. Add candied pecans and coconut whip cream. Drizzle over the remaining maple chai glaze. Dig in!

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