Natural sugars don’t count- part 1: Pear & pecan toffee crumble.

Given the amount of marketing that goes into promoting fruit and vegetables as the way to protect your heart and ensure longevity, it’s amazing how many adults still choose to eat nutritionally poor food on a daily basis.  We’ve never been more aware of the content and nutritional values of food, and yet, obesity is prevalent in a number of wealthy countries with high levels of literacy.  Why don’t people make the right food choices for their bodies?

In my humble opinion, I think choice itself is part of the problem.  Sugary food, food laden with flavourful fat and food containing too much of what we don’t need is often more appealing than healthier, natural options.  I adore peas, love broccoli, would kill for olives and feel incredibly happy when eating sweetcorn, but burgers, pizzas, chicken korma and anything covered in melted cheese is hard to resist.  What hope do greedy folk like me have?

The best thing to do is to treat yourself to the unnecessary sugary and fatty items every now and again and most importantly, to acknowledge that they are just that; a treat.  A couple of days of eating poorly is all it takes for me to get back on track.  Too many treats and they stop feeling like a treat and I enjoy them less.  Over the last few weeks I’ve been making an effort to cut down on the naughty things so that I begin to appreciate them again.  Baking every day is not conducive to this, so I’ve started giving away almost everything I bake to friends and family.  It feels good, but it’s hard to wave goodbye to the freshly baked goods as they leave my flour-covered hands forever.

Vegetables will always be on my plate, though and I love them.  However, what my diet has in vegetables, sadly, it lacks in fruit.  I’m just not a fruit fan.  I love watermelon and I’ll eat just about every fruit going, but I’ll never ask for it or make an effort to eat it.  For all the colour, variety and goodness in fruit, it just doesn’t register on my food radar.  And pudding?  No.  Fruit, no matter how nicely presented, is not and never will be an acceptable pudding.  Scanning a dessert menu, my eyes narrow scornfully should they come across fruit.  Disgraceful.  I want the finest sugars known to humanity and I want them now!

Natural sugars don’t count.  They don’t cut it with me.  I’ve decided to try to address the lack of fruit in my diet by incorporating fruit into my treats.  The first of these is about as sugary as it gets and so delightful, I almost talked myself out of giving it to my mum today.  I said almost.  Mum got the pudding to serve at dinner with my brother and uncle and I got to make what I believe is the nicest fruit-based pudding I’ve tasted.  It wasn’t too difficult to give it away because I’d made a test version last week and the poor pudding didn’t even see the next morning!  I’ll wait a few more weeks before making it again.  Moderation is the key.  Meanwhile, I’ll see what other ways there are to turn fruit to the dark side.  Watch this space…

Pear & pecan toffee crumble

(For the filling)

6 pears (peeled and roughly chopped)

4 tblspoons demerara sugar

3 tblspoons golden syrup

2 tblspoons dark muscovado sugar

30g butter

1 tblspoon milk

(For the crumble topping)

120g self-raising flour

100g butter (diced)

5 tblspoons demerara sugar

2 tblspoons pecans (finely chopped)

Rub the flour and butter together to make the crumble topping.  They should look like breadcrumbs in yoru bowl when you’re done.  Pour in the pecans and the sugar and bake in the oven for five or six minutes at 200 degrees Ceslius until golden.

Next, make the toffee sauce.  In a milk pan, gently heat the syrup, muscovado, demerara, milk and half of the butter.  Once it has come to the boil, let it simmer for five minutes and stir constantly.

In another pan, cook the pears in the remaining butter for about five or six minutes.  Pour the toffee into the pan with the pears and cook for another five minutes on a gentle heat.  Stir the pears so that the toffee doesn’t burn.

Finally, put the mixture into an oven-proof dish and then spread the crumble over the top.  Sprinkle extra demerara sugar on top, if you’re a sugar fiend like me.

Bake in the oven at 200 degrees Celsius for twenty minutes.  The crumble should be golden brown, but not burned.  It might be a little too sweet for some, so a scoop of vanilla ice-cream is a good choice when serving.