I don’t know if you’ve ever worked with Korean Pears before , but it can be quite a task if you’re doing anything other than eating them fresh. I had it in my mind that I wanted to create a pear tart using asian pears for Thanksgiving, but the truth is Korean Pears don’t change much in texture if you bake them. After experimenting in my kitchen lab with a few Korean Pears I came up with a final dessert that made my Momma swoon. She said “Your little candied yam korean pear squares taste like a treat someone would offer you at a friend of a friend’s house during the holidays. You would gladly take a square gobble it down, think it was unlike anything you ever tasted yet embodied all the sweet flavors of late Autum. Then you’d sit there looking at your plate…. dreading you didn’t eat it slower. Wishing you could ask for another piece, but your manners get the best of you so you don’t.” She said this as she served herself another slice in the comfort of her daughter’s home.
All photographs taken by: Mando Lopez
Ingredients for candied yam Korean pear squares:
2 – Melissa’s produce- Korean pears (peeled, cored and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces)
2 – sticks of cinnamon
2 – cloves
1 – cup brown sugar
1 – tablespoon vanilla
1 1/2 – cups water
3 – cups yams or sweet potato ( peeled and cut)
1 – stick of butter (melted) plus 2 tablespoons (room temperature)
2 – tablespoons orange juice
10 – graham crackers (each cracker has the ability to become two squares-20 squares total)
1 3/4 – cups whole pecans
1/2 – teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 – teaspoon ground ginger
1 – cup mini marshmallows
Let’s start with the Korean pears.
In a saucepan over a medium flame add 1 stick of cinnamon, cloves, 1/2 cup of brown sugar, vanilla, and 1 1/2 cups of water. Bring to a boil.
In the meantime peel and cut your Korean pears.
Remove cinnamon stick and cloves from boiling brown sugar mixture, then add cut pears and boil for 20 to 25 minutes, or until pears can easily be pierced with a fork. Remove from flame, and set to the side. Reserve brown sugar liquid for a later use.
Lets’s move on to the yams. Peel and cut yams or sweet potatoes.
In a large sauce pan filled with water halfway over a medium flame add a cinnamon stick and bring to a boil. Then add yams and boil for 15 minutes or until a fork can easily pierce through. Drain.
Place drained yams in a medium bowl and mash with a potato masher. Then mix in 2 tablespoons of room temperature butter, orange juice, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar liquid that pears poached in, 1/4 cup brown sugar. Set to the side.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit
Let’s make a crust. In a food processor, add graham crackers, pecans, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and ground ginger. Pulse until crumbs are formed.
Remove 1/2 cup of crumb mixture for a later use and set to side. Then add melted butter to the remaining crumb mixture and pulse to combine.
Spray an edge brownie pan or a metal 8×8 pan with a non-stick spray, then fill with crust mixture. Using your fingertips press down to form crust to the bottom of pan.
Place crust in the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Then remove from oven and let cool for 10 to 15 minutes.
Next evenly spread in the layer of mashed yams.
Remove all Korean pear pieces from any remaining liquid and place on top of mashed yams.
Place back in the oven for 25 minutes. Then remove from oven and sprinkle with 1/2 cup of reserved crust crumbs.
Place back in oven and bake for another 10 minutes. Then turn off the oven and put under the broiler for 2 to 3 minutes or until marshmallows turn golden brown. Remove from broiler and serve warm or cold.