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SHF23: Surprise Inside: My Triple Surprise Williams

Williams or Bartlett Pear

The Williams pear made its appearance in Parisian marché (market) this week. With the appearance of the Williams pears, I know autumn is on its way and very soon the nights will start to get longer and longer.

As we get further into autumn, the pears we get in the market will start to elongate: an oblong top and a bell bottom. First, we’ll get the round Bartlett to roundish Anjou to my favourite of all pears, the “tear drop” Comice pear. I call it the “rain drop” pear. As soon as I get to sink my teeth into a juicy Comice pear, as if by clockwork, the raindrops will start to fall too, incessantly.

Unlike the Comice, the Williams pear is short and round and greenish yellow in color. It has a strong luscious smell and its white flesh is juicy and tender. When we think of pears, the Williams is probably the pear that comes to mind. This pear is easily available in many parts of the world… and it also seems that everyone wants a part of the Williams pear.

The Williams pear originated from England. Its original name was the Stairs pear, after Mr Stairs, a schoolmaster who first discovered the pear. The Stairs Pear later became the Williams pear, after Mr Williams who introduced and sold it to the rest of England and Europe. I guess Mr Williams forgot to mention Mr Stairs. In the US, Williams is known as Bartlett, with a similar story of identity snatch. A certain Mr Carter brought some pear trees from England and planted them in his land. His property was later sold to Mr Enoch Bartlett who enjoyed the fruit and started distributing them under his own name in the North East, and then to the rest of the US. By the time, someone from both continents realised that Williams=Bartlett, it was too late to change the name, as the Williams and the Bartlett pears are widely known in their respective continent.*

Surprise in a Surprise Pear

In France, the Williams is sometimes called “Williams Bon Chrétien” (Williams the Good Christian) and often made into an eau de vie (digestive). It has a strong scent and is mild in taste and perfect with winter meals.

This month’s Sugar High Friday is hosted by Alanna Kellogg of A Veggie Venture and the theme is “A Surprise Inside”. The first thought that came to my mind was “Kinder Surprise”. I know! How sad is this? The years and years of Kinder Surprise marketing has taken root. They know what my sweet tooth is.


Here’s my little contribution to chocoholics who’d like to find a piece of chocolate inside their Williams. This is a surprise in a surprise in a surprise dessert. Under the filo, you’ll find a pear. In the pear, you’ll find the chocolate. Savouring the chocolate, you get a taste of ginger and almonds. This recipe adapted from a Jamie Oliver's recipe. The picture was very enticing, but my first attempt was a flop. His recipe has incorrect butter measurements in the list of ingredients and directions don't match. The pear became too watery with the OJ. I find the vanilla seeds are “lost” in the dessert. And the chocolate doesn't melt and mix evenly if it's not shaved thin and blended properly.

Surprise in a Surprise Pear


  • 4 ripe Williams pear
  • 40g ground almonds
  • 50g softened butter
  • 50g sugar
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 70g cooking chocolate, shaved
  • 16 sheets of filo pastry
  • Heat oven to 170degC or 325degF.
    Core the Williams pears from the bottom to about half way up the pear.
    Melt 1/3 of the butter and set aside to cool.

    Mix the ground almonds, 2/3 of the softened butter, grated ginger and chocolate together in a bowl and mix well.
    Stuff the mixture into each of the pear and set aside.

    Place a sheet of the filo pastry on a flat working surface and brush with the melted butter.
    Place a second filo sheet on top of the first one and brush with melted butter.
    Repeat. Each pear should have 4 filo sheets.
    Place a pear in the middle of the filo pastry pile and bunch up the filo pastry around the stalk.
    Bake for 30 minutes.
    Serve hot with a scoop of vanilla ice-cream.

    Note: Pears do not ripen on trees. They are picked when they are firm. My verger (green grocer) says to buy them when the skin is light green and let them sit on the countertop to ripen quickly or in the fridge for a slower ripening time.

    * I did much research of the Bartlett-Williams pear and found this site about pears in the USA most useful. Strangely enough, there isn’t much about the Williams-Bartlett naming. I guess no one wants to rock the boat.


    Ai Ginny ~ These are so pretty! And I love the triple surprise. PLUS: it's definitely one of the 'fancy-looking simple recipes' from Sugar High Friday. I do thank you for your contribution, look for the round-up later today! AK

    Chocolate inside a pear? Wow! Talk about a perfect treat.

    Wow! I love pears, I love chocolate, I now love this dessert.

    How creative. A surprise with in a surprise.

    What a great entry for SHF! Three of my favorite things together: Pear, chocolate and pastry. This may have to go into my fall-dessert rotation!

    Thanks to all for your comments. Pear season is here. This is a nice and super-easy recipe. Just put it in the oven and 30 mins later, hey presto, a yummy dessert! Enjoy!

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