Winter is a great time for pears, what I think of as the oft-overlooked fruit when it comes to baking. We're all so eager to bake with cherries, blueberries, apples, peaches, plums, and even pineapples that we forget about pears. Even I'm guilty of it. There's not a single pear dessert recipe on this blog... until now, that is.
I still had some pears left from the shipment USA Pears sent me -- even after I incorporated them into my pear and Roquefort salad -- and I thought it would be fun to work them into a warm pear crisp, which could double as dessert and breakfast. (Don't judge. I even eat chocolate cake for breakfast sometimes, and at least this has oats and fruit in it.)
I took one Bosc pear (known for its woodsy, honey-sweet flavor) and one Starkrimson pear (characterized by its smooth flesh and floral essence) and set them on the counter. Then I rummaged through the pantry and freezer for more supplies. Beyond the staple ingredients, I grabbed some frozen cranberries, walnuts, and candied ginger bits. My crisp was shaping up.
I sifted through some cookbooks and found a couple crisp recipes I liked. I took the best parts of each, combined them with the ingredients I knew I wanted to use, made some tweaks, and put together my recipe. I was so pleased with the results.
These crisps are subtly flavored and really highlight the pears, as opposed to drowning them in cinnamon or other spices (but if that's more what you're looking for, it's easy to mix some spices in too). (And if you want a bigger hit of ginger, feel free to double the candied ginger.) I always enjoy a sweet crisp topping in opposition to soft, juicy fruit in this sort of dish, and that's exactly the texture combination I got. And to make these simple crisps a bit more decadent, I drizzled bittersweet chocolate on top after letting them cool slightly.
Pear, Cranberry, And Candied Ginger Crisps (adapted from Baked and The Craft of Baking)
2 pears, peeled, cored, and diced (I used 1 Bosc and 1 Starkrimson)
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon flour
4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut in small pieces
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped
1 tablespoon ginger mini chips (or chopped candied ginger)
Melted bittersweet chocolate for drizzling (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
For the filling: In a medium bowl, mix together pears and cranberries.
Stir in sugar and flour. Set aside while making topping.
For the topping: In a medium bowl, toss flour and butter together using a wooden spoon.
Once butter is coated with flour, work oats and sugars in with your fingers.
Once mixture starts to clump together, work in the walnuts and ginger.
Place four 10-ounce ramekins on a baking sheet. Divide the fruit evenly among the ramekins.
Then sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit.
Bake crisps for 25 to 30 minutes, rotating halfway through, until fruit is tender, juices are bubbling and fragrant, and topping is golden brown.
Let cool 15 minutes.
Drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired, and serve. (Once cool, crisps can be wrapped in plastic, and refrigerated. Reheat in microwave or oven.)
Have you had any good pear desserts lately?