For pear lovers, this jam is a must. I made it last week and I simply cannot stop eating it—with a spoon, straight from the jar. It combines juicy, mildly floral Bartlett pears with the seeds of a vanilla bean and generous pour of brandy. Try it with a cheese plate, or use it to dress up slices of simple gingerbread or pound cake.
Around the holidays lots of people overindulge, be it with a few extra glasses of eggnog, a handful of Christmas cookies, or a third slice of fruitcake. Me? I can't stop eating pears. I just love their tender, sweet flesh, and the way the juice dribbles down my chin after each bite. I slice them in salads, puree them in soups, and of course use them to bake pies and cakes. This year, I was determined to find a way to preserve my precious pears, so I could enjoy them long after the season was over.
What I like best about this jam is that it cooks very quickly, so the pears retain their bright, succulent flavor. A small amount of sugar sweetens it up without making it taste candy-like or cloying. The brandy adds just a faint, boozy note that reminds me of a delicious eau de vie, and the vanilla seeds add spicy warmth and look absolutely gorgeous in the jar.
About the Author: Lucy Baker is a food writer and the author of The Boozy Baker: 75 Recipes for Spirited Sweets. She is currently at work on a second book about homemade food gifts. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and dachshund.