Get ready to add some new chips to your snack inventory. In Chips: Reinventing a Favorite Food, author Chris Bryant provides an array of recipes for chips that allow you to take control of the ingredient and cooking method. The recipes range from savory to sweet, and include fruits, vegetables and other delicious options. This recipe for pear chips is from the section, “Fruit.”
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Dessert chips? Of course! Crystallized pear chips are a delightful treat on their own, but these gem-like creations also carry the power to transform. On a cheese board, set a stack of crisp, sweet Crystal Pears between a sharp gorgonzola and a nutty Swiss. On the dessert cart, atop cupcakes and ice cream, Crystal Pears will glisten like jewels.
Don’t be tempted to hurry the process and crank up the heat. Going low-&-slow helps ensure that the pear chips come out bright yellow-gold. And save the syrup that remains once your pears are poached! It makes a delicious pear-and-ginger simple syrup for beverages and desserts and can serve as the start of a delectable sorbet.
For this recipe, I like the form and true pear flavor of green Bartletts, but you can use any pear variety. Select fruit that’s under-ripe and use all of it—skin, core, and seeds. Go with three pears if you want to cull out the imperfect specimens, and four if you’re cutting by hand.
• 2 large, slightly under-ripe pears
• 2 cups sugar
• 2 cups water
• 12 thin slices of fresh ginger, peeled
• 1 lemon, halved
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F, with racks in the upper and lower thirds. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Make the Syrup
2. In a wide saucepan or a skillet over medium-high heat, combine the sugar and water. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook it for about 2 minutes. Add the ginger slices and continue boiling for 2 more minutes. Reduce the heat to low and allow the syrup and ginger to simmer while you prepare the pears.
Prepare the Pears
3. Cut each whole pear into very thin, uniform slices, preferably 1/16 inch thick—about as thick as a quarter. I cut mine lengthwise for the perfect pear profile. Squeeze the lemon over the slices to keep them from browning. Hint: A Mandoline makes it easier to produce uniform, intact slices. If you’re winging it by hand, use a super–sharp, wide-blade knife for better control. I also suggest adding an extra pear to make up for slices that don’t come out intact.
4. Turn the burner to medium and bring the syrup to a low simmer. Working in 2 batches, add the pear slices to the syrup in one layer. Simmer for 2 minutes while spooning the syrup over the slices, and then remove the pan from the heat. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pears from the pan to a plate. Then arrange the pears on the prepared baking sheets so that they’re close but not touching. Poach and arrange the second batch of slices.
Bake the Pears
5. Prepare an area for the chips to cool, either on wire cooling racks or a parchment- or waxed-paper lined surface. Bake the slices for 90 minutes to 2 hours until they’re dry to the touch and rigid when lifted up. Turn them with rubber-tipped tongs or a non-stick spatula. You may need to work some of them loose and peel then up.
6. Return the chips to the oven, turning the baking pans and switching their positions in the oven. Bake until the chips are crisp and completely dry but not browned-for another 20 to 40 minutes, depending on their thickness.
Note: The chips harden as they cool, so send a test chip to the freezer for a minute to evaluate readiness.
7. Transfer the chips to the wire rack or prepared surface to cool. They'll harden and crisp as they cool. Serve them at room temperature.
You can make pear chips up to 3 days ahead. Store them in an airtight container between layers of waxed paper or parchment paper.
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Reprinted with permission from Chips © 2014 by Chris Bryant, Lark Books, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. Photography by Lark Books.