Published November 14th, 2018
Local child chefs land a winning title in Moraga Pear Recipe Contest
By Susie Iventosch
Sherwood siblings in cooking gear! Photos Celine Sherwood
The 20th annual Moraga Pear & Wine Festival was held on Sept. 22, celebrating Moraga's pear history and offering plenty of fun for families including a pie-eating contest, music, wine tasting, face painting and inflatable bouncy houses. But, the activity that is always most dear to my heart is the annual Pear Recipe Contest. I just love to see all that pear creativity coming out of Lamorinda kitchens.
This year's adult winners included Tom Smith for his Cream Cheese and Pear Tart; Elaine Cable for her Pear and Chèvre "Cigars"; anonymously submitted Pear Pistachio Sweet Rolls and Ana Patterson for both her Pear Stuffed Crepes and Endive with Pear appetizer. The winning youth entry was awarded to the Sherwood Siblings - Ben, 8, Eva, 6, Lilly, 4, and Annie, (who goes by Tweety), 2. And were they ever excited when they heard the announcement of their winning entry!
Their recipe, which according to their mom, Celine Sherwood, was a last minute experiment because Ben and Eva brought a Pear Festival flyer home from school only the day before the contest. As the kids inquired about the meaning of a recipe contest in general, they all realized that this particular event offered a youth category. Inspired by this news, they loaded up the car and headed for Safeway to buy ingredients for their recipe. In the end, their masterpiece combined three different recipes - an Italian cake made with mascarpone cheese, an apple bundt cake, and baked pears filled with cinnamon ricotta.
"We only had time to make one cake, so we didn't have time to make a test cake that we could taste and tweak," Celine said. "We weren't even sure it was going to be edible!"
In fact, they never even had a chance to taste the cake until they brought leftovers home after the contest. But, it helped enormously that cake is one of the Sherwood children's favorite things to make when they get to work in the kitchen.
"My favorite thing to cook is cake," Eva pointed out. "And my dad's favorite to eat is pumpkin cheesecake."
Ben added, "I love to make chocolate chip cookies, but Oreo cake is the best."
"I really love rainbow cake with swirly colors," Lilly reported.
Tweety remained silent, but I'm told she loves pizza best!
The Sherwood's Ricotta Pear Cake is especially interesting because it has no leavening agent, so it is very dense and moist, almost like a pudding-cake. It also calls for very ripe, almost overly ripe pears, which lend a very fruity taste. What I loved most about the cake is the shape, because they baked the cake in the Nordic Ware Rose Bundt pan, one of Celine's favorite kitchen utensils. When I made the cake at home, I used a regular bundt pan, but the Sherwood kids' cake was so much prettier than mine. I'm definitely going to have to add that pan to my inventory.
For the Sherwood family, home baking was born of necessity. Lilly has a serious nut allergy and it became very difficult for Celine to find baked goods that were nut-free and prepared in a completely nut-free facility. Baking at home allows Lilly to enjoy all the fun childhood treats without fear of anaphylaxis shock. But what prompted the children's involvement in the kitchen was the discovery that Ben, who was struggling in kindergarten, is "Twice Exceptional" (2e for short). These individuals are both gifted (high IQ) and have a disability that can range from dyslexia and auditory or sensory processing issues to Tourette's or any other issues that may interfere with the person's ability to learn in a traditional environment. They are considered "exceptional" due to the fact their intellectual abilities coexist with their special needs. Unlike most people who fall somewhere in the middle of the bell curve when tested in various skill sets and abilities, 2e individuals fall on the far ends of the IQ curve and can be in the 95th percentile in some areas while in the bottom percentile in others.
Celine realized they needed a way to get Ben hooked into developing areas he struggled with like reading, math, fine motor and executive functioning skills. After trying different kinds of activities and programs that didn't pan out, she put his motivation for sweets to work, thinking that baking would incorporate many of the skills he needed help with such as measuring, reading, and working together with his sisters, all the while enjoying the "sweets" of his labor.
While this is not foolproof and didn't address all of Ben's issues, it was a great way for Celine to observe his struggles first-hand and help guide him through it. "As I said, it wasn't a miracle life-changing thing for us, but it was something we could do at home and together," Celine said. "We started with cookies and after several failures due to Ben and Eva fighting, or not paying attention to recipes, they slowly learned, through eating several batches of less than spectacular cookies, that baking is a science and when they don't cooperate, 'things taste bad' as they would say."
I would suggest the "proof is in the Ricotta Pear (Pudding) Cake" that the Sherwood family has come a long way from inedible batches of cookies and struggling to work together in the kitchen. When I had the pleasure of meeting Celine and her adorable children, they were all super enthusiastic about their love of cooking and their favorite cooking utensils and aprons, and so pumped on their first-ever recipe contest results. They are already planning and concocting ideas for next year's contest. The Sherwood family has been a true inspiration to me, both as a mom and a cook, and as a member of this community.
Celine highly credits the entire Camino Pablo Elementary School staff and faculty, who have gone above and beyond to help not only Ben, but all students at the school to succeed and meet their potential.
More of the Sherwood Family recipes, including Celine Sherwood's Smashed Carrots, a savory and sweet pairing that both her children and I rave about, as well as her Winter Wild Rice dish, will be featured in an upcoming issue.
To see all of the winning recipes from the Pear & Wine Festival, visit
Moraga Pear Festival Recipe Contest Winners 2018
Youth Recipe Contest Winner

Ricotta Pear Bundt Cake
The Sherwood Siblings (Ben, Eva, Lilly and Annie)
2018 Youth Dessert Winner
1/2 cup unsalted butter (melted)
2 eggs
1 teaspoon honey
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup ricotta cheese (can substitute mascarpone or cream cheese)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 overly ripe pears (peeled and cubed)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
PAM baking spray with flour (in blue can with read cap)

1. Heat oven to 350 F (325 F for convection ovens)
2. Spray Nordic Ware Rose Bundt pan with PAM baking spray until well coated and place in fridge.
3. In a large bowl, add all wet ingredients (melted butter, eggs, honey, milk and ricotta cheese) and beat with hand mixer until blended (does not have to be completely smooth).
4. Add sugar and flour to bowl and mix until batter forms.
5. In a separate bowl, place the cubed pears, cinnamon, ground ginger and cardamom and toss until the pears are coated with the spices.
6. Add pears to cake batter and gently fold the pears into the batter.
7. Pour batter into a well chilled bundt pan and smooth the top evenly.
8. Place in oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
9. Let cake cool completely and turn out onto a cake plate.

***A chocolate version can be made by adding 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder during step 4 of the directions.
This cake is great as a dessert served with caramel sauce and/or a scoop of ice cream.
The Sherwood siblings with their award winning Ricotta Pear Bundt Cake. From left: Ben, 8, Lilly, 4, Eva, 6, and Annie, 2.

Cream Cheese and Pear Tart
Tom Smith
2018 Adult Dessert Winner

1 stick butter softened
1/3 cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla
2/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
¾ cup flour

Pre-heat oven to 350 F. In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the walnuts and flour and mix. Press mixture into bottom of 10-11 inch tart pan. Bake the crust for 10 minutes and cool.

8 oz cream cheese (softened)
1 egg
¼ cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla
2-3 pears but into thin slices
1 tsp sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon

Increase the oven temperature to 350 F and pre-heat. Mix the cream cheese, egg, ¼ cup sugar and vanilla in a small bowl. Spread mixture over tart base. Place pear slices around top of cream cheese mixture. Mix 1 tsp. sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle on top of the pears. Bake 25 minutes.
Cool and refrigerate prior to serving.
Pear and Chevre “Cigar” with Thyme Pear Honey
Elaine Cable
2018 Adult Appetizer Winner
For “Cigars”
2-3 ripe pears (I use Bartlett), peeled and diced
½ shallot, finely minced
3 Tbsp butter
1 5oz log of quality Chevre
1 package phyllo dough, thawed
4 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp fresh thyme leaves
Pinch of salt and pepper
Parchment paper
Baking sheet

For Thyme Pear Honey:
3 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp pear, finely mashed
pinch of fresh thyme leaves

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
2. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a saucepan, over medium heat. Reserve the other Tbsp for later use.
3. Add diced pear, minced shallot, salt and pepper
4. Turn heat to medium-low and stir mixture occasionally until lightly caramelized.
5. You want the mixture to be thick, not juicy. This may take up to 15 minutes to achieve.
6. After mixture is thicken, turn off heat and set aside.

1. Cut phyllo sheet in half lengthwise and then in half cross ways to make 4 rectangles measuring approximately 6” by 8”.
2. Brush the rectangles with remaining Tbsp of butter, making sure to reserve a little to brush over the tops.
3. Sprinkle some thyme leaves along the short edge of the phyllo rectangles, then lightly fold over to encase the thyme.
4. Spread about a Tbsp of the cooled pear mixture along the opposite short edge of the rectangles, then crumble some of the chevre in a line on top of the pear mixture.
5. Starting with the pear/chevre side, roll the phyllo once over the pear/chevre mixture and continue rolling to the folded-over thyme edge, then rolling over it to seal.
6. Complete step 5 with remaining phyllo rectangles.

Place “cigars” on a parchment-lined baking sheet and brush the tops with the remaining melted butter.
Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
Serve immediately with a drizzle of pear honey and a sprinkle of thyme leaves.

Pear Honey:
Warm 3 Tbsp of honey in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the Tbsp of finely mashed pear. Mix well to incorporated. Add the pinch of fresh thyme, last. Cool slightly and drizzle over warm “cigars” just before serving.

Other Recipes

Pear Pistachio Sweet Rolls

For: Dough: 2 ¾ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup sugar
2 Tbsp butter
1 egg
1 package instant (quick rise) yeast or 2 ¼ tsp
½ cup water
¼ cup whole milk
1 tsp salt
For: Filling:
4 pears (I use Bartlett) peeled, cored and roughly diced
¼ cup finely chopped pistachios, plus more for garnish
2/3 cup brown sugar
¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter PLUS 1 Tbsp, room temperature
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp vanilla extract
For: Vanilla-Cream Cheese Glaze
4 oz cream cheese room temperature
2 Tbsp melted butter
2 Tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

In a large bowl or a bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, yeast and salt. Mix the ingredients until dispersed evenly. Then in a small microwave-safe bowl, combine the sugar, butter, water and milk. Heat on high until mixture is hot and butter is almost melted (1 -1 ½ minutes). Gradually add milk mixture to flour mixture. Add the egg and mix until a soft and sticky dough forms. You may need to add a tsp more flour, if the dough is too tacky and not pulling away from the sides of the bowl. At this point, stop and turn oven on to 200 degree. The rolls will rise in the warm oven.
If using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook and set on the lowest speed for 4 minutes, or until the dough becomes elastic. If not using s stand mixer, knead by hand on a slightly floured surface for 3-4 minutes. Then cover the dough with plastic wrap and allow it to rest on the counter for 5 minutes.
Place the diced pears and the 1 Tbsp of butter in a medium saucepan and sauté over medium-high heat. Cook until pear juice is absorbed and mixture is thickened and lightly caramelized (8-10 minutes). Set to cool.
Once the dough has rested roll it out on a lightly floured surface until it measures a16x9 inch rectangle. Prepare the filling by combining all the ingredients except butter in a small mixing bowl. Spread the butter over the top of the rolled dough. Spread the cooled pear mixture over the butter then follow with the brown sugar mixture and finally layer the chopped pistachios reserving a few tsp for garnish.
Tightly roll the dough and cut into 12-16 equal portions. Place the rolls into a lightly greased 9x13 pan or two 8x8 pans. Gently press a piece of aluminum foil over the top. Then TURN OFF the oven and place covered rolls inside to rise for 25-30 minutes. They should have doubled in size. Remove the rolls from the oven and turn ON the oven to 375 degrees. Once heated, bake the rolls for 15-18 minutes or until the centers are lightly golden brown.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Glaze
Beat together cream cheese, butter and vanilla until smooth and creamy. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar adding milk a little at a time until smooth and lump-free. Drizzle glaze over warm rolls and garnish with reserved chapped pistachios.

Pear Stuffed Crepes
Ana Patterson

Makes 12 portions

For stuffing:
2 Bosc pears
2 Bartlett pears
2 Asian pears
1 quarter butter (unsalted)
1 lemon
1 spoon cinnamon
For crepes:
5 eggs
1 cup flour
1/3 cup milk
2 spoons of beer
For serving:
¼ cup of dulce de leche
Powdered sugar

For the crepes: Add all crepe ingredients to a blender; in a nonstick pan, medium heat put a small amount of the butter to grease the pan, add five spoons of batter and wait until fully cooked then flip (cooking time is quite fast) Repeat for each crepe.
In another pan toss chopped pears (in small cubes), add butter, cinnamon and juice of one lemon then cook on medium hear. Wrap succulent cooked pears with crepes. Serve warm and sprinkle powdered sugar with a drizzling of dulce de leche.

Endive with Pear
Ana Patterson
2018 Appetizer

Serves 15

3 large endives
2 large red pears
chopped walnuts
gorgonzola cheese-crumbled
3 spoons of honey
1 lemon

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and drizzle three spoons of honey. Leave the skin on one of the pears for color. Clean the endive and separate the leaves. Stuff each leaf with pear mix and serve.

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Copyright Lamorinda Weekly, Moraga CA