Pear Crisp

Pears make for amazing desserts in the fall. Sweet and grainy, they blend so well with a multitude of other flavors: spices, raisins, bananas, caramel, nuts, creams. This pear crisp has the wherewithal to combine all of the above. And since we had an early Thanksgiving this year, I can vouch for its propriety in topping off a Thanksgiving dinner.

So I initially got the inspiration for this dish from the Pioneer Woman’s pear crisp, which I was all set out to make – until I got a good look at the actual recipe. Lord. Ree, I love you, but I think you’re trying to kill us all. Death by sugar. The ratio for her filling? Two-thirds a cup of sugar to four pears. Just for the filling. That’s not even including the topping. Good God. We may all want to meet our maker at some point, but not yet.

So, if you, like me, prefer your kidneys, pancreas and heart in functioning condition, you might want to cut back on the sugar a smidge. And by smidge, I mean I cut the 2/3 cup down for 4 pears to about a tablespoon for 8 pears. And I can guarantee that it’s still plenty sweet.

Here’s what I did. This makes two 9 – inch pie pans full of pear crispy goodness.

For the filling:

8 ripe pears (Buy them ahead of time, so they won’t be too green. I had about 4 large ones and 4 small ones, but there’s no real need for precision about this)
a sprinkle of salt (about a 1/4 teaspoon worth)
a sprinkle of sugar (about a tablespoon worth)
a squeeze of lemon

For the topping:

1 1/2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup loose brown sugar
generous 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
generous 1/2 cup pecans, finely chopped (I actually probably used more like 3/4 cup)
1 cup butter, melted (which you could probably cut back by a 1/4 cup)
a sprinkle of nutmeg to taste
a sprinkle of ground ginger to taste

1. Chop the pears into small chunks and place in a baking dish or two. Sprinkle a little salt over them. Then sprinkle some sugar. Squeeze a little lemon for freshness. Let sit as you prepare the rest.

2. For the topping, mix the flour, sugar, brown sugar, pecans, and butter. Spoon over the top of the pears. Then sprinkle some nutmeg and ginger over it all. I used about a pinch of each per dish.

3. I prepared this and let it sit in the butter and sugar and lemon while all the other food finished cooking and even after we started to eat. I put it in the oven just after everyone really tucked into the food. Bake it at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then move it to the top rack and bake for about 10 minutes more. By the time everyone’s ready for dessert, this baby will be done baking and have started to cool, but still will be nice and warm and buttery.

4. Serve with ice cream. I went to town on the Haagen-Daas and bought a pint of: rum raisin, bananas foster (!), and vanilla swiss almond. All three make excellent complements for the pear crisp. Have you all tried the bananas foster yet? It’s a limited edition and it is SO GOOD.

Et voila! You have dessert.

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