Thick, moist and generous gingerbread toasts topped with infused Timut black pepper pears and blue cheese. A beautiful sweet and savory appetizer for the holidays!
After sharing with you a wonderful and incredibly moist gingerbread recipe a couple of days ago, here I am again with some savory appetizer toasts involving this gingerbread. Before I go any further, note that I shared the full gingerbread recipe in this post as well to make it easier for you to go through the recipe. Nothing has changed, except that I wanted to spare you some time so you don’t have to go back and forth in both recipes.
Choosing the perfect gingerbread for toasts
For these toasts, you can prepare the gingerbread up to one day ahead, and keep it wrapped in cling film until ready to use. Wrapping in cling film will insure the moist texture of the bread. I usually keep mine at room temperature but you could also place it in the refrigerator. Alternatively you could go for this gingerbread version, which is brighter in color and denser in texture, which makes it closer to a bread than a cake. Both versions are good, but if you are looking for something that is more cake-alike or bread-alike based on your own personal tastes, you will be glad to know that you have options here.
While gingerbread is most of the time a dessert in the United States, it is often used as a base for appetizer bites in France, especially around the holiday season. Savory gingerbread toasts are indeed very festive, bringing a subtle sweet touch to any savory toppings. Among them, gingerbread toasts with foie gras and pear-vanilla confit is a classic for Christmas. Gingerbread and pears are indeed an amazing combo, but if you are more on the vegetarian side, today’s recipe is the one for you.
Black pepper syrup infused poached pears
Really you could just pair your toasts with raw pears and cheese if you wish. But to make it a little bit more sophisticated (it’s Christmas after all), I prepared a black pepper syrup in which I infused diced pears. I got the idea of this black pepper syrup while partnering with Peugeot Saveurs North America earlier this year. I tried it and found it genius. However, the choice of pepper really matters as it is the ingredient that will bring all the aroma to your syrup. Peugeot Saveurs actually offers a wide range of high quality products that can completely transform a simple dish (and no, I am not sponsored here, I just happen to really really love their products).
For this specific recipe, I used Timut black pepper, which is my absolute favorite black pepper at the moment. Try to grind it at the last minute to make sure it releases all its beautiful aromas in the infused syrup. If you can’t find your hand on Timut black pepper, you can go for the voatsiperifery instead.
Which cheese with gingerbread toasts?
Pears and cheese are beautiful together, and so are gingerbread and pears/gingerbread and cheese. Now the question is: which cheese would go best? Here I used Gorgonzola that I like for its strong flavors, but really any blue cheese would do. For those who are not so kind of blue cheese, try fresh goat cheese instead.
For the final touch, add a drizzle of honey, fresh rosemary, walnuts if you wish and enjoy with additional fresh black pepper. Serve with a dry white wine of your choice (avoid a sweet wine however, as the toasts are already sweetened).
- ⅓ cup + 1 Tablespoon (100 ml) milk
- 3 Tablespoons (50 ml) strong coffee*
- 2 cloves
- ⅓ cup + 1 Tablespoon (90g) butter
- ½ cup (90g) light or dark brown sugar**
- 6 ounces (180g) honey
- 1 large egg
- ⅔ cup (80g) all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup (80g) rye flour, or whole wheat flour
- 1 pinch salt
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
- ½ teaspoon ginger, ground
- 2 small pears, peeled, cored and diced
- 1 vanilla pod, cut lengthwise
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper**
- 1 clove
- ¼ cup (50g) light brown sugar
- 5.3 ounces (150g) Gorgonzola cheese
- In measuring cup placed in the microwave, heat the milk with the coffee. Infuse the cloves, and set aside.
- In a separate saucepan, melt the butter with sugar and honey. Let cool slightly for about 2 minutes, then add the egg, whisking vigorously to prevent from cooking the egg.
- In a medium bowl, mix both flours, baking soda, salt, and spices.
- Pour the butter-honey mixture into the dry ingredients, then slowly pour in the milk, stirring well.
- Place in the refrigerator for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 340°F (170°C) and grease a 9x4-inch (24 x 10 cm) loaf pan.
- Pour the batter into the loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes. Let cool completely into the loaf pan.
- Place sugar, black pepper**, clove and vanilla in a saucepan. Add 2 tablespoons water and bring to boil. Turn off the heat and let infuse for about 30 minutes or ideally overnight in the refrigerator.
- Slice the gingerbread into thick layers.
- Add one tablespoon of pears, leaving syrup behind, sprinkle some Gorgonzola cheese. For extra toppings, add a touch of honey, rosemary leaves and extra black pepper.
** I use freshly cracked Timut black pepper, which brings beautiful aromas.
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