In my family, fruit has long been considered the ultimate luxury gift. To us, nothing was more exciting than receiving a Harry & David Fruit-of-the-Month Club subscription. We eagerly anticipated fall, a time when October’s pears and November’s apples — varieties that we didn’t have access to — arrived on our doorstep.
Even when I went to college, I still received gifts of gourmet fruit and other foods from my uncle. I’m pretty sure I was the only first-year student toting Royal Riviera Pears, dried Turkish apricots, and boxes of nuts up from the dorm mailroom.
Today, I’m still very much into fruit, and one of my favorite things to do with it is bake it with cheese and some form of dough. The type of cheese and pastry depends on the grain and flavor profile of the fruit. The potable pairings are an easy crowd-pleaser: think wine or port.
With intensely flavored, silky Royal Riviera Pears, a moderately pungent blue cheese is a good match. Another ideal yet surprising partner? Cookies. Specifically, Cheryl’s Buttercream Frosted Cinnamon Pumpkin Cookies. Acting as a base, these perfectly spiced treats add butter, cinnamon, and pumpkin notes from the bottom up. They also absorb the honeyed pear juices, tart drops of lemon, and finishing drizzles of molasses as the fruit bakes in the oven.
With a crumbled blue cheese filling that includes chewy dried apricots and toasty, salted walnuts, this sweet and savory dessert becomes symbolic: my vision of autumn in a baking dish, and a reminder of all the fruity goodness Mother Nature has to offer.
- 6 Cheryl’s Buttercream Frosted Cinnamon Pumpkin Cookies
- ½ cup blue cheese crumbles
- ⅓ cup Harry & David Turkish apricots (chopped)
- ⅓ cup Harry & David walnuts (chopped)
- 3 Harry & David® Royal Riviera® Pears (ripe but firm)
- 1 lemon (juiced)
- 2 teaspoons molasses
- Red wine (or port, optional)
- Preheat the oven to 375° F.
- In a baking dish, lay the cookies in two rows, frosting side up.
- In a small bowl, mix the blue cheese, apricots, and walnuts together. Set aside.
- Using a sharp knife, slice the pairs in half lengthwise. Carefully peel and core each pear half. Trim a small slice from the rounded back of every pear so that the fruit will lay flat. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice to prevent them from turning brown.
- Place each pear half flat side down on a cookie. Fill the empty cores with the blue cheese mixture and mold more over the tops.
- Drizzle the molasses over the six pear halves.
- Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 3-5 minutes or until the apricots are caramelized, the walnuts are lightly browned, and the cheese is slightly melted.
- Remove from the oven and serve with a glass of red wine or port.