Much like apples, pears scream “Fall!” to me. Not much is better to me than a pear that yields under a little bit of pressure, the kind that is so juicy that you need three napkins to eat it. There’s no need to peel them, and the core is almost nonexistent.
Like apples, pears go perfectly with brown sugar, maple, and cinnamon, evoking warm and cozy thoughts of Fall. The combination makes me want to wear long sleeves and shorts (one of my favorite parts of Fall), crunch through piles of colorful leaves, and drink apple cider (or maybe pear cider? Is that a thing? If it is I am thinking that I may need to look into getting some) on my back porch while a chilly wind blows through the crisp air.
My first thought for a pear-based dessert was a pear tarte tatin, but then I decided that pear tarte tatin was something that I would probably make a couple of times, declare delicious, and never make again. Upside-down sticky pear and walnut muffins? Those I could probably talk myself into making at least every other weekend. Former America’s Test Kitchen chef Yvonne Ruperti’s book One-Bowl Baking provided a base recipe, but I swapped a few ingredients (maple syrup instead of honey, walnuts instead of pecans) and added pears and voila! Delicious, warm, cinnamony, fruity muffins that you’ll want to eat up immediately, which is a good thing because, since these are very moist and sweet, they’ll mold after a few days if kept at room temperature. Please don’t wait too long to remove them from the paper! You won’t believe how quickly the sticky topping will harden into a shellac-like shell that you’ll never get out of the liner!
Sticky Pear-Walnut Muffins (adapted from One-Bowl Baking by Yvonne Ruperti)
prep time: 20 minutes
cook time: 20 minutes
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1 cup toasted chopped walnuts
- 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar (light or dark)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
- 2/3 cup sour cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup toasted chopped walnuts
- 1 large pear, cored and chopped
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners. Do NOT skip this step!
- Make the topping: stir the butter, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, and maple syrup together until smooth. Stir in the walnuts. Divide the topping among the 12 muffin cups.
- Make the muffin batter: Whisk the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, egg and yolk, sour cream, and vanilla until well-combined. Add the flour, baking powder, and baking soda and stir just until moistened-do not overmix. Fold in the pear and walnuts.
- Divide the muffin batter among the prepared cups. Do not overfill (fill each cup about 3/4 full). You may have enough batter to make a few extras without the topping. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out dry or with only crumbs sticking to it.
- Allow the muffins to cool in the pan for ten minutes. Remove from the pan and flip upside down onto a serving platter. Immediately remove the muffin liners (don’t wait for this or the mixture will harden). Serve warm. If any are left, refrigerate.