This is a story about a big mistake turning into something phenomenal. No, I didn’t invent penicillin. But, depending on how you feel about dessert, this might come close.
This weekend, we had the co-pastors from our church—an awesome husband and wife duo—over for dinner. We’d been planning this get-together for a month, so last weekend when we picked up our CSA share at the farmer’s market, we scanned the booths asking ourselves what else we needed to create our dinner. We fell hard for this beautiful head of bright orange cauliflower, and we picked up some grass-fed lamb stew meat. All that was left to sort out was dessert.
Now, Anthony is not much of a baker. He doesn’t really have an appetite for sweets, and frankly, I don’t think he has the patience for the careful precision of it. He’s more a splash, sprinkle, stir, taste, and season kind of guy. In the realm of cooking, his method is great, in baking—not so much. Needless to say, the planning and execution of the dessert portion of the meal was up to me.
At the market, a basket of rosy-skinned pears caught my eye, and I figured they were as good a start as any to my imaginary autumnal dessert. After toying with the idea of pear and gingerbread trifle or caramelized pear upside down cake, I settled on the simple (and slightly less starchy) favorite: pear crisp.
With surgical precision I sliced each pear, leaving its gorgeous crimson skin on for heightened visual effect. I added sugar, cinnamon, and dash of vanilla extract and tasted the mixture. It needed something else…perhaps cloves? I love ground cloves, so I added a pinch, and then a pinch more and tasted.
Oh s***! My pears tasted like a Yankee Candle Outlet!
Breathe, Sharon, maybe it’s not that bad? Tony tasted them. It was THAT bad.
I let the pears sit for a while and tasted them again, half-heartedly hoping that they would mellow. Nope, worse. The cloves were growing more and more pungent with time, and our guests were arriving in 30 minutes.
Frantically, I started thinking about how to neutralize the flavor. For a second, I seriously thought about rinsing them off and starting again. Instead, I grabbed an apple out of the fridge, sliced it, added it, and tasted it again. Maybe better? But it still tasted like a mouthful of potpourri. So, I added another giant apple, and warned Tony that he was going to be eating crisp for breakfast for the next three days, no matter what it tasted like.
In a stroke of genius, I added a hearty splash or two of bourbon and a giant handful of dried currants. I tasted again, and it was actually good!
I threw together some crisp topping (so much for the precision of baking), and waited to assemble it until we were serving the main course. After an hour in the oven the crisp turned out beautifully, and I served it warm with some hand-whipped cream. Yummm!!!
I told everyone very deliberately that they were eating “Pear, Apple, and Currant Crisp” to a chorus of oohs and ahhs. Who knew it was a total screw-up?