Pear Jam with Cacao Nibs Recipe

Confiture de Poire aux Eclats de Fève de Cacao

[Pear Jam with Cacao Nibs]

Just recently, I had a sudden urge to make jam — it may have to do with my own dwindling supply of the homemade stuff, or the sudden realization that spring strawberries would not last forever (as opposed to strawberry fields). In any case, when I went to the market a couple of weeks ago, it was with the firm intention to purchase fruit and make jam.

The strawberries were still way too pricy (at 4€ for a half-pound basket, they would make some luxurious jam indeed) but the guy at the produce stall said he had a crate of very ripe Conférence pears — he used the expression poires blettes, which I’ve always found ugly and off-putting, but I knew what he meant — that could be used for jam. Insert happy inner voice here (“Oh wow! Pear jam! I have never made pear jam! Pear jam sounds really good!”), and I got two kilos for just a little over 3€.

As I set out to peel and core them, I was a little anxious to see just how ripe and/or bruised they were, but they turned out to be just fine — and in fact very sweet and juicy, as indicated by the amount I surreptitiously ate while prepping them.

To make the jam, I loosely followed the instructions Christine Ferber gives in her excellent Mes Confitures book. I didn’t have any of the apple jelly she calls for however, so my jam will probably not set very well — pears are naturally low in pectin — but I don’t mind: runny jam makes for a fabulous coulis or yogurt topping.

Since pears and chocolate are a notoriously happy couple, I decided to experiment with stirring some cacao nibs into the jam after it was cooked. Pear and pistachio sounded good too, so I made a few jars with shelled pistachios as well, and left a few jars plain, for simplicity’s sake. The cacao nibs and pistachios had a tendency to bob to the surface, but I am hoping that they will still infuse the jam with flavor and add textural variety.

No tasting notes as of yet — it is best to give the jars a few months in the cool and quiet darkness of my kitchen cabinets, before I open them and report back!

(The amount of pears that I had yielded eight jars of assorted shapes and sizes, so I scaled things down a bit in the recipe below.)

Confiture de Poire aux Eclats de Fève de Cacao

– 1.25 kg (2.5 lbs) ripe pears — 1 kg (2 lbs) once peeled and cored
– 1 kg (2 lbs) sugar (if it is available to you, use pectin-enriched sugar, a sugar that’s especially made for jams: in France it is labelled as sucre spécial confiture)
– the juice of one lemon
– 1/4 C cacao nibs

(Yields four to five jars.)

Wash, peel and core the pears. Cut them in one-inch chunks. Weigh the amount of pear chunks that you get (about 1 kg or 2 lbs), and combine them in a large pan with the same weight of sugar and the lemon juice. Cover and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Transfer into a large dish (glass, ceramic or eathenware) and cover the surface with a sheet of parchment paper. Let cool to room temperature on the counter, then keep in the fridge overnight.

The next day, put a saucer in the freezer. Wash the glass jars and their lids carefully, then soak them in boiling water for 10 minutes, and set them out to dry upside down on a clean kitchen towel.

Return the fruit mixture into the pan, bring to a simmer and cook for five minutes, stirring gently with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat and spoon out the foam if desired (this will make for a clearer jam, but I personally don’t do this — in any case don’t discard the foam, use it to sweeten plain yogurt or serve it with scones). Bring to a simmer again. Take the saucer out of the freezer, pour a drop of jam on it and tilt the saucer: if the drop stays put, the jam is ready. If it is still liquid, simmer for another minute or two.

Pour the jam carefully into the jars so they are almost full, divide the cacao nibs evenly among them, stir carefully with a spoon to combine, pour in more jam so the jar is completely full, wipe carefully if there was any spillage and close the lids tightly. Let cool to room temperature upside-down on the counter, then store in a cool and dark place for a few months.

Variations: I also made a few plain jars and a few with shelled unsalted pistachios.

Important disclaimer! This jarring method (boiling the jars then closing them tightly and letting them cool upside down) is one that’s been commonly practiced in France for generations and generations. However, using a sterilizing machine and rubber-lidded jars is the only way to be absolutely safe. For more information on home-canning, click here.

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  • Is it safe to jar jam like this without sterilizing the jars and using those little rubber sealing things? Or is that just one of those overcautious things that I’ve picked up as an American?

  • Brian – This method is the one I’ve always seen done by people around me (including my mother), and it is the one Christine Ferber advocates in her book (at least the French edition!). The boiling water step is what sterilizes the jars, and sugar is a natural preservative. However you are right, US food safety rules are much more strict. I’ve added a disclaimer — better safe than sued! :)

  • michelle

    Are you taking orders for jars yet?

  • Karin

    Sounds lovely, looks tempting! Reminds me of my favourite pear and ginger jam which is made locally here in the New Forest. Everyone else thinks it sounds horrible but it is divine on toast. Mmmm…pear and ginger.

  • Lee

    The pears Belle-Helene from Mes confitures is possibly the best preserve I’ve ever made. It is more like pear chocolate sauce and makes a fabulous crepe pairing. Do consider it next time you have a bounty of pears! P.S.- Love your blog especially the bliss in jars.

  • joan

    AND NOW! (introduces the top-hatted gentleman) the jar of confiture de poire aux exlats de feve de cacao on tightrope! Clotilde such a quirky photo for today.

    ‘n Brian all my jam-making ‘career’ I’ve used the oldfashioned boil the jars method…and all those who’ve eaten of the jam lived to tell the tale of the taste..:-)

  • Meg

    Clotilde, where do you find fèves de cacao and what are they like? Are they cocoa beans? How else do you use them? Sorry, but I’m intrigued…!

  • Meg – Cacao nibs are tiny bits of roasted cocoa beans, unsweetened. They smell of chocolate very strongly, and taste slightly nutty. Mine come from Scharffen Berger in California, but I know some chocolatiers (like Michel Cluizel) sell them, and you can buy them at G. Detou, too. I recommend them, I find them to be a very interesting ingredient to play with, both for sweet and savory recipes…

  • One of my alltime favorite recipes is for a chocolate and pear pudding from Laurie Colwin and her love of old English cookery. It’s quite fun to make, a little messy, but always delicious and surprising.
    Speaking of ginger and pear, I have often served this dessert with chantilly and candied ginger dice.
    This summer is my year to learn how to make jam, thank you for adding to my excitement about setting forth on this escapade!
    p.s. If the cacao nibs are a little “stale” or not emitting enough of their flavour, toast them in the oven a bit as you would pine nuts.

  • Very nice! I might knick this idea and try this jam out.
    I have just made a kiwi jam, as I always get stuck with lots of overripe kiwis. You can only buy them hard and then I forget about them, so jam worked out superb!

  • agness

    My friend gave me a gift of homemade pear preserves made from pears off a tree in her backyard. It was amazingly good and I was sad when I finished it. I loved spreading it on banana-walnut waffles (I don’t like maple syrup or regular old plain waffles either really). I hope yours turns out equally as well and I might have to try out your recipe when I find a good price on pears.

  • lisa

    That jam looks divine!

    Well, jam is a very low-risk thing to can, so the upside-down jar method’s only real danger is that it will go moldy faster. Fruit is highly acidic, and the sugar is a good preservative. If you do want to sterilize, you don’t need a machine, just a pot with a cloth on the bottom. Make sure the jars (with the rubber lids) are filled while hot, covered with lid and tightened, then boiled for 10 minutes, if the jars weren’t sterilized. The water in the pot needs to be 1 inch above the top of the jar).

    If you make some jars of anything else (like salsa or anything containing vegetables, including tomatoes), you must do the proper method of canning and acidifying, or you could get really sick or die.

    Making jams and other canned goods is a new favourite hobby…brought on by all the trips to farmer’s markets.

  • Lucia

    Salut Clotilde! I have been lurking for a while and the Confiture des Poires aux Eclats de Fève de Cacao has been the first recipe I tried. Thank you so much! I hadn”t got the éclats at hand so I substituted them with little drops of chocolate which got softer and almost melted when poured into the jam (some jam, a little generous spreading of chocolate, some other jam, some other chocolate etc). I haven”t tried the experiment yet so I can”t say if it”s a good idea or not!
    Keep going with your wonderful blog!!!
    Lucia – who is very grateful to the Belgian friend who told her about C&Z!!!

  • i was wondering…this post is a little late, so it might not get noticed, but how does adding dried lavender to the pear jam sound? sans the cocoa nibs of course…i couldn’t find them at the gourmet garage yesterday, but thought lavender might add an interesting flavor. thoughts?

  • Ed Hodges

    I bought Mes Confitures through A fine book, well worth having. Amazing flavor combinations.
    It is in English and has a source list, most of which are in the US

  • Christy

    Alright, it’s been four months and I’m dying to know if you’ve tried it yet!!! It sounds and looks so divine.

    I made the Belle Helene recipe from Cristine Ferber’s Mes Confitures and I wasn’t wowed by it, but I was hoping for more pear and less chocolate like you’ve got here. I will try again when pears go on the cheap!!!

  • BVegan

    Me, too! I want to know what happened with the pears and cacao nibs! I’ve got three pounds of cacao beans here, and would like to make the recipe if it came out well.

  • becky

    strawberries are ripe (and cheap $1.00/pound you pick) here now and was thinking that cacao nibs (yum) and strawberries might be quite nice as well.

  • Liz

    At last – I finally got to try this jam… and it is lovely. My husband says that it tastes like a pim and I think that is a pretty accurate description. It is light and sugary – would be wonderful on shortbread.

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