As much as I love living in the coastal Southeast, I do get excited when winter rolls in…if for no other reason than I can wear some of my favorite sweaters! Well, that and I love baking; and having a home filled with the smell of cinnamon and nutmeg or chicken soup on a cold day is sheer bliss to me. It was 80° on Friday and mid-70°s on Saturday, so when the forecast said that the high on Sunday would be in the 50°s, my mind immediately started wondering what wonderful things I could cook and bake on that chilly (relatively) day. And what my mind came up with was some this Rum Spiced Pear Jam and complementary baked goodies to give as gifts this holiday season.
For several years now we’ve given jars of preserves with a baked treat to neighbors, friends and teachers for the holidays. I needed to get some of the jams made and wanted to ‘test run’ the baked good that would accompany the jam.
I initially thought of a wonderful Cardamom Spiced Plum jam that I have made for several years, but when I went to the grocery store to gather my plums, imagine my disappointment when the produce guy told me that plums aren’t in season anymore! How did that happen? It was just July, like yesterday!? So I went back home, a little dejected but not deterred.
I gathered my favorite canning books around me as I watched my favorite football team play rather poorly and scoured the cookbooks for inspiration. And what I came up with was…PEARS! I have not canned with pears before…their sometime grainy texture has never said ‘make a jam out of me’ like a white nectarine (oh my!) or a tart cherry. But several of the authors I respect touted the pear as a great winter preserve, so I resolved then and there to go down the ‘pear path’.
I had the aforementioned cardamom spiced plum jam in my mind and while I knew plums were no longer an option, I just wasn’t able to shake the ‘cardamom’ part. So cardamom pear jam it was, but a funny thing happened while I was seeking inspiration. I noticed some folks using brandy in their preserves.
I didn’t have brandy, but I did have a quarter of a bottle of Captain Morgan’s Spiced Rum…tell me that didn’t sound good with my cardamom spiced pears!? And because I’ve never one to leave well enough alone, I decided a few pieces of cinnamon would only make my jam just that much better.
The resulting Rum Spiced Pear Jam is spectacular! The pears melted into soft, gently flavored spread that screamed (in my mind anyway) for …Gingerbread! Are pears and gingerbread a real thing? Or is just in my, sometimes challenged, mind?
I know my mom made a gingerbread several years ago that had pears in it, so I think that’s where this ‘pearing’ (get it?) originated. In any event, I slept on this potential pairing and when I awoke this morning…the Rum Spiced Pear Jam + Gingerbread = Perfection thought was still buzzing around, so I had no choice but to follow.
I didn’t want something too sweet for my baked good; I was thinking along the biscuit or scones line. I went to the World Wide Web, typed in Gingerbread Scones and this recipe from Serious Eats is the one that caught my attention first. And, as if the stars weren’t already aligning in my favor, it’s a ‘one bowl’ recipe.
This recipe now has a permanent spot in my repertoire. It’s one of those that once you find it, you don’t want to look for anything else. I’ll be making many batches of these scones to accompany my jam as gifts, but know I’ll also be making several batches for our own enjoyment. They are the perfect pair; in fact I’d go so far as to say the Gingerbread Scones are the Ginger Rogers to the Rum Spiced Pear Jam’s Fred Astaire.
In addition to more batches of the scones, I’ll also be making more jam for our pantry, as well as for gifting. I found these great little spoons in Napa Valley several years ago and bought a couple to use and to gift. I have gifted or have used all except this one, which when paired with the Rum Spiced Pear Jam and scones will make a perfect gift. I need to be on the lookout for unique teaspoons and spreaders or butter knives to replenish my stash.
If you are new to canning, I highly recommend The Ball Book of Canning and Preserving. I’ve been canning for years and I still refer to it regularly to make sure I am canning safely. A basiccanning kit is also very handy. I am not a collector of unnecessary tools and the tools in these kits are really very necessary for canning. You’d have a hard time pouring the jam neatly into the jars and lifting the jars out of boiling water without some of the tools in a canning kit.
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