pear raisin squares (or cooking with booze)

I love cooking with liquor (and wine). It’s sort of naughty, you know? Every time I add a dash of rum, a glug of whiskey, or a few tablespoons of Grand Marnier to a recipe, I feel saucy (and a little British).

The only problem is, I don’t drink much. When a recipe calls for some type of booze, I go to the grocery store and get a whole bottle of it, then it languishes on top of our cabinets for years. I once made a bittersweet chocolate tart that had a touch of cognac in it (have mercy). I hadn’t the slightest idea where to find it in the spirits section of the grocery, so I went to the counter and said, “Do you have any cohn-ynac?”

“Have any what?”

“Cooooohnnnn-yynac. Cahn-eeyac?”

“Oh, cognac?”

Yes, if that’s how you say it. I wound up getting a little airline-size bottle, put almost all of it in the tart (after downing a half shot of it first, because you should always know your ingredients), and loved the warmth it gave the finished dish.

So this afternoon, I’m making Pear Raisin Cobbler Squares with a dash of Grand Marnier, which I have on hand because I bought a huge bottle of it last year to make a cake that called for 1 tablespoon of it. I have about 120 tablespoons of it to go.

These squares smell incredible—all warm and rich and cozy, just like a fall dessert should be.

pear raisin cobbler squares
adapted from JuBella
makes about 16 servings

For the crust:
2 cups white spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sucanat
2 sticks unsalted cold butter, diced
1 egg
2 tablespoons cold water

For the filling:
1/4 cup raisins
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1-1/2 tablespoons Grand Marnier, divided
5 pears, diced
2/3 cup sucanat
1 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons white spelt flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

For the crust: Combine flour, salt, and sucanat. Add cold butter, rubbing and combining with your hands (or a food processor) to create small crumbles. Add egg and water and combine until dough sticks together. Shape the dough into two squat rectangles; wrap each in plastic wrap. Chill for 30 minutes or more.

For the filling: place the raisins in a small bowl. Add butter and 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier. Microwave for 30 seconds and set aside. In a medium sauce pan, stir pears, sucanat, molasses, spelt flour, cinnamon, vanilla, the remaining Grand Marnier, and the raisin mixture. Stir over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. To assemble, roll one disk of dough out to roughly fit the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ pan. Place in pan. Pour the pear and raisin mixture over the crust and spread to cover. Roll out the remaining disk of dough into another large rectangle. Cut strips from it and place on top and around edge for a seam.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly (it will seem very soft still). Let cool completely before cutting into squares.






  1. Lan

    can you taste the actual alcohol in the sqaures? sometimes if a recipe calls for a specific kind of alcohol that i know for sure i’ll never ever use again, i ignore that ingredient and add in vanilla instead.

  2. joannalinberg

    In this case, I can taste it, but probably only because I’m looking for it. I think it adds a bit of richness but honestly, vanilla would probably do the same and I might go that route the next time I don’t have the liquor on hand. Thanks for the suggestion! (The cognac/chocolate tart? Could totally taste it and it tasted of awesome.)

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