Monday, January 27, 2014

Bubbling Pear Crisp

Here are our pears-- leftover from the holidays--- which have to become something very soon --or they will be too far gone.  So I cruised my cookbooks and found a pear crisp in my new Cook's Illustrated Baking Book.

Pears aren't as firm as apples and create more juice so this recipe was developed around that knowledge --- adding cornstarch to the fruit to keep them from getting too soft.

My pears were extra ripe so I added an extra 1t. of cornstarch ---anticipating mush.

But what I really wanted to try was their crunchy topping.

I am always looking for a good fruit crisp recipe. We live in the middle of fruit country --- apples, peaches, pears, apricots, blueberries, raspberries, and grapes are abundant in the Finger Lakes area.  I have tried many variations over the years, including Julia Robert's Fresh Peach Crisp.

I really liked this one.  It's a keeper to use in the summer.  (And I included their suggested variation for an oat topping, although I have not tried it myself.)

Pear Crisp
(from Cook's Illustrated Baking Book)

Serves 6

3/4 cup nuts, chopped coarse (I used pecans)
1/2 cup (2.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed (1 3/4 ounces) light brown sugar
2 T. granulated sugar
1/4 t. ground cinnamon (Vietnamese is what I prefer)
1/8 t. ground nutmeg
1/8 t. salt
5 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 T. granulated sugar
2 t. lemon juice
1 t. cornstarch (I used 2 t.)
pinch salt
3 pounds pears, peeled, halved, cored and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil to catch any overflow.
For the topping, pulse together nuts, flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in food processor until nuts are finely chopped, about 9 pulses.
Drizzle melted butter over the mixture and pulse until it resembles crumbly wet sand, about 5 pulses, scraping down bowl halfway through.  Set aside.
For the filling, whisk sugar, lemon juice, cornstarch, and salt together in a large bowl.
Gently toss pears with sugar mixture
and transfer to 8 inch square baking dish.  (I used a rectangular one of similar capacity.)

Sprinkle topping evenly over fruit, breaking up any large chunks.
Transfer baking dish to prepared baking sheet. Bake until fruit is bubbling around the edges and topping is deep golden brown, about 30 minutes, rotating the sheet halfway through baking.
Transfer baking dish to wire rack and let cool until warm, about 15 minutes;

Serve!  Good with vanilla ice cream or a little whipped cream.

Pear crisp with Oat Topping:

Reduce nuts to 1/2 cup and increase butter to 6 T.  After incorporating melted butter into flour mixture in step 2, add 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats to food processor and process until evenly incorporated, about 3 pulses.


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