There’s only one thing I want in 2014, and it’s summed up in that song lyric above. May my hands be breaking bread with more friends on their knees, may I be the sort of person who default-drops to her knees, may I lean ever harder and surer on the One who’s always loved me. May I make six-course New Year’s Day lunches with my husband and his brother, which start with pear stacks like these, and see them—even those sweet, refreshing small plates—from the broader, larger view of being part of a broader, larger story, one that I am not the author of. May I rejoice in the beauty of a pretty plate because it points to a greater Beauty I was made to see, may I rejoice in the work of planning because I am loved by a Greater Planner who’s never weary, may I run to Him and cling to Him and not waste another moment thinking anything, ever, could even hope to fill me more.
Sometime last winter or spring, I read Edith Schaeffer's Hidden Art, a book that impressed upon me many ideas, but none more notable than the concept that there is value in pursuing beauty, even beauty in a pear plate. I think about that with a recipe like this one because it's pure assembly, no cooking or baking required, and even the assembly is aimed at presentation rather than purpose. The pears would taste the same, sliced, and topped with sweetened ricotta, but the stacking makes them special. People are always talking, around the holidays, about making things special and doing things special, but I rather like the idea of special on a random day in January, just you and your husband and his brother. It's a simple, humble act of love to take 10 minutes to assemble pear stacks, but it is an act of love, no doubt about that, and so there's joy in it.
One quick note: When you cut into the pear stacks, they usually collapse all over your plate, which destroys the presentation but makes for a delicious mingling of filling and fruit. This is how I can say with total confidence that the pistachios were a winning addition, and you might even want to add pistachios between the pear layers because they're just that good.
- 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
- 2 to 3 teaspoons maple syrup, to taste
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for garnish
- 3 bosc pears
- Chopped pistachios, for garnish
Creating the ricotta filling first by combining ricotta, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and cinnamon in a bowl. Taste and adjust as you like.
Next, prepare the pears. Peel* the skins with a thin paring knife, leaving the top stem for decoration. Using the same knife or, if you have one, a melon baller, scoop out the bottom core of the pear. Slice the bottom of the pear to make a flat surface, as this will make it able to stand straight, and then slice the pear horizontally into thick 1"(ish) pieces, carefully picking out seeds as you see them. Spoon ricotta filling between layers and stand pears up, individually, on three separate plates.
To garnish, sprinkle extra cinnamon and some pistachios over the top. Serve immediately.
*Peeling the pears is completely optional, but we chose to do so because our pears weren't organic.