When I came across a picture of little pears dusted in sugar on a Croatian website I bookmarked it immediately. I mean, how could I not? I’d already made little Croatian peaches so I thought it’d be fitting to add another fruit to my cookie recipes. I’m not up to scratch in reading Croatian as I only pick up about half of the words, but thanks to Google translator it didn’t take long to get the full recipe. It called for orange extract but I used orange zest and juice instead, plus a little vanilla paste, and rather than shape the mixture into 25-35 small pears (I mean really, who has the time?) I used a ½-cup measure to form 7 small pears but if I make these again I’ll use a 1/3-cup measure as I found the pears a little too big for one portion.
Once cooked, the texture of the pears is a little like soft cookies on the outside and even softer like flourless orange cake inside. It isn’t overly sweet and makes for a perfect nibble with a coffee or tea.
Preheat oven to 180°C.
Combine the ground almonds, caster sugar, semolina and orange zest in a large mixing bowl. Set aside.
Combine the egg whites, vanilla paste and orange juice in a small bowl and lightly beat to incorporate. Pour the wet ingredients into the almond mixture and stir well with a wooden spoon. When it comes together use your hands to form it into a dough. Using a ½-cup measure, divide the dough into 7 portions. Alternatively use small amounts of the dough to make smaller pears. Shape the dough portions into pear shapes, place onto a lined baking tray and bake for 20 minutes, or until very lightly golden.
Set aside to cool completely before rolling and dusting in icing sugar. Garnish with some leaves if you wish.