Thursday 22 November 2012

Pear Pie & Raspberry Caramels

You know how sometimes everything you cook is just a little bit off? Not ruined, not inedible - just not what you'd expected. This week has been like that. Every day I wake up and think that today will be the day when I get my act together.

Maybe tomorrow.

After many experiments and accidents, I don't have a recipe for you this week. Instead, I have two ideas represented by two sets of photos. It seemed a shame to waste them. After writing about the hidden scaffolding of rules and habits behind this blog last week, it seems almost appropriate to break them.

First, I made a pear pie that had a bit of a soggy bottom (I dread to think what Mary Berry would have said).

My mum came to visit last weekend as there was a tiny slit of light in my schedule. The main reason the pastry went wrong was that I had to take the pie out of the oven early or she would have missed her flight home to Switzerland as she refused to leave without tasting it. I've also never made a pie with a pastry base in this ceramic dish - I think a metal one would be better.

You actually don't really need a recipe for this - just use your favourite pastry recipe (I used the one from the Apple and Quince Pie) and fill with chunks of firm but ripe pear. I mixed a tablespoon of brown sugar with half a teaspoon of ground ginger and sprinkled it between each layer of pears. The pears were concordes and were some of the best I've ever tasted.

I also tried to make some freeze-dried raspberry fudge, inspired by some I ate on my trip to Edinburgh a few weeks ago. It was my first attempt at fudge. I appear to have made caramels. Absolutely gorgeous, vanilla-flecked, raspberry-studded, salted caramels.

But as they're not what the recipe was meant to make and I can't test it again today to check, I don't feel comfortable giving you the recipe. I think the pastry gods were trying to tell me something - caramels appear to be an even better place for the raspberries than fudge.

If you can't wait for me to do more testing, you could try finishing a tin of salted butter caramels from David Lebovitz with a handful of crushed freeze-dried raspberries (I stirred some in, too, hence the slightly weird bumps). It's quite different from the recipe I used but I think it would give you a similar taste and texture.

A few related posts:
Banoffee Pies
Ginger Bourbon Pecan Pie
Dusky Caramel and Raspberry Crêpe Cake


  1. These look like happy accidents! Whereabouts do you get your freeze-dried raspberries from?

  2. This pie is absolutely stunning! Great photos and recipe :)

  3. I am all for the freeze dried raspberries salted butter caramels. I am sure they will look n taste fantastic. Need to figure out if I can find freeze dried berries though.

  4. So many good recipes are the result of accidents! The caramels look beautiful, the freeze dried raspberries on top are especially pretty - I've been looking for something pink (but naturally pink!) to sprinkle on some biscuits I'm making as gifts and the raspberries look perfect! Thanks for the inspiration ;)

  5. I am glad you shared your 'failures' (in all honesty, neither the pie nor the caramels look like failures to me at all!!) here with us. I think all of us suffer from this from time to time, it's only normal, whether it's due to using a new oven, using baking soda instead of baking powder (yup, guilty of that in the last month), making substitutions in a recipe that totally flopped (guilty of thinking I could just swap agave syrup for white sugar in making white chocolate at home, turns out that was a bad idea and I now have some weird fudge like (incidentally studded with freeze-dried raspberries) blobs of something barely resembling white chocolate sitting in my freezer).

    Best of luck and I am sure you get your mojo back soon enough!

  6. I think it's so important to be happy with recipes before you post them. I've sometimes had a recipe that isn't quite right and wondered whether to make do, but I don't want to lose my readers' trust and share anything that I'm not confident will work. Your honesty is really appreciated.

    On the other hand, I kind of want the recipe for those caramels, they look delicious and much more gooey and delicious than boring old fudge ;-)

  7. Great to see you on the Woman and Home top 100 which I found via 'mowielicious' (sad not to see Little Loaf, London Bakes and Nutmegs Seven though - major omissions in my view). Another great post Emma. I agree with Little Loaf's comment above. This post is such as coincidence - I am planning on making a pear tart at the weekend, I made caramels a couple of days ago (chocolate ones from the Gu Chocolate Cookbook - excellent) and I bought some freeze-dried raspberries this week too! I made macarons with them yesterday and was wondering what I could use them in next. Love your idea - will replicate!

  8. Thank you for sharing these, even if you weren't 100% happy with them. It's good to see that other people have off days (or weeks!) in the kitchen. Although the raspberry caramels look delicious. Where do you buy the freeze dried raspberries?

  9. Jeni- Mum of Emma24 November 2012 at 07:39

    The concord pears are a cross between comice and conference and are amazing!

    I carried my second potion with me through all the airport security checks. The person checking my documents asked what it was. I replied that it was my pear tart. When I bought my hot chocolate I asked him to put some cream on my tart. I ate my second portion of pie and cream on the plane. It was delicious cold.

  10. I am sure Emma will say where she got hers, but I got my freeze dried raspberries online from Healthy Supplies (UK).

  11. Your "mistakes" look great! I have never had pear pie; I love pie and pears so I'm thinking this is a must bake sometime in the near future!

  12. Everyone wondering where I buy freeze-dried raspberries - I bought mine online, like Anon above, from Healthy Supplies. The website looks a bit old fashioned and dodgy but I'm happy with the service and product and they seem to be good value for money compared with other places.

    Anon - They were happy accidents! Especially the caramels.

    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar - Not really a recipe really but I'm glad you liked it!

    kulsum@journeykitchen - It's a great combination - a nice tart contrast. And they look pretty. I don't know if they'll deliver them to you but I've put my supplier above.

    Emiko - That sounds like a lovely idea, I think they'd look very pretty on biscuits. You could pulverize them further to make a powder if you like.

    Sophia - Well I did say they were delicious failures! I've had much, much worse ;) It's definitely normal. It's very easy to think from the outside that nobody makes mistakes but I think it's important to show at least some of them.

    thelittleloaf - Definitely. I guess a few years ago I might of posted them - back when nobody actually made them! But now I feel awful when people spend time and money on making something and it doesn't turn out. I'll try the recipe again and give it to you. Though they're very dangerous, I've been in a permanent sugar coma ever since I made them.

    Amy - I agree, they should have been included! Chocolate caramels sound amazing, as does pear tart. The freeze-dried raspberries are great, I'm really looking forward to seeing what else I can do with them.

    Kezia - I thought it was worth sharing the photos and ideas even if they're not fully worked out. I've put my supplier at the top of the comment, hope that helps.

    Anon - Thanks, I happen to get mine there too!

    Crystal - I'd never had pear pie before either - it doesn't seem to be as big a thing. It was delicious though.

  13. I seem to have been plagued with 'off' weeks recently! I love that pear pie it looks incredible!

  14. If you want to make fudge (remember, I mailed you about it), I've got the recipe down now :D I'll be happy to share it if you want?

  15. Your blog and photos are beautiful! So daughter wanted to make a pie from scratch for Thanksgiving...sadly I offered her a ready-made crust with which to use:(

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