I didn’t use to like pears. I had a strange prejudice against them. The texture wasn’t quite crisp enough, the flavor perhaps a little too floral. And you can’t deny the slight graininess. I was an apple girl.
But over the past few years, I’ve made a real effort to give foods I didn’t use to like a chance to prove themselves to me, to show their worth. My parents did a fair job of expanding my palate as a kid. I grew up eating Thai food and all manor of sea creatures, but some dislikes are hard to get past. Brussels sprouts? I didn’t even try them until I was in my late teens. Squash? In pie form only, thank you. And don’t even get me started on peas and carrots.
Tastes change, however, and now I’m known to buy four different types of squash at the farmers market. I make Brussels sprouts for my boyfriend and I on a regular basis. I’m still not a fan of carrots, though I’ve had success with an admittedly delicious carrot ginger soup. Peas are still a no go. Sorry peas!
Pears got their chance as well. It started with perhaps some matchsticks in a salad, or a few pear slices eaten with some stinky bleu cheese. Their merits started to show. That sweet, floral flavor pairs nicely with tangy foods and hearty spices. Hmm…perhaps pears aren’t so bad after all!
The real star of this Upside-Down Pear Gingerbread, however, is the molasses. It’s dark, smoky, slightly bitter aroma is the perfect counterpoint to the warm spices and sweet pears. Now, before the Paleo Police come knocking on my door, I know that some people might not consider molasses to be on the paleo “yes” foods list. There seems to be an overarching taboo towards all things cane-derived in this community, but in all honesty, why is cane sugar any less natural than coconut sugar? Both have been extracted and refined from a plant. And of all the forms of cane sugar, molasses still contains some vitamins and minerals. Look into it.
Besides, it really wouldn’t taste like gingerbread to me without a little molasses. If you really want to avoid it, substitute with additional honey or maple syrup. It won’t have the same rich flavor, but it will still be delicious. Or you can live on the edge. I dare you!