Gingery Pear Crisp with Salted Almond Topping

Tarte Tatin and Cherry Clafoutis not withstanding, pears are the fruit I have always associated with a true French kitchen.

When Grandma Annie wanted fruit, she usually chose a juicy pear. Her mother, Mémére, loved them, too. It took me years to develop a taste for pears, as I found them too metallic.

I like them now, and they are second only to apple desserts in my repertoire.

This dessert was created from odds and ends and leftovers on a winter night in 2007. It was better than I expected, and I've made it a time or two since

I've update the recipe a bit, as I no longer rely heavily on artificial sweeteners. I have also tried this with mixed nuts, with good results.

Here is my original recipe, updated:

Pear-Ginger Crisp with Salted Almond Topping
  • 6 D'Anjou pears, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1 tablespoon candied ginger, cut into small chunks
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cold cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop the pears and candied ginger and combine with sweetener, cinnamon and vanilla extract in medium bowl. Toss to ensure each piece is well coated. Set aside.

Chop nuts, and blend with flour, butter and sugar. You may start out with a pastry tool, but I find there is nothing like plunging your hands into the mix until it is coarse and grainy.

Pour the fruit into a greased 8-by-8 inch baking pan. Press down with a spoon or spatula. Spread the crust mix evenly over the top; again tamping down. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until crust turns golden brown. Garnish with more candied ginger, if you like.

Note: The crust smelled so good while I was making it, and I sampled a fair amount before I put the crisp in the oven. I love the mix of sweet and salty.

The flavors here are subtle and delicate. That was my intention. I really did not want any single taste to overpower the others.

This light dessert passed the Ultimate Taste Test (that's when leftovers taste equally delicious), and I ate it for breakfast with a hunk of low-fat cheddar cheese.


Lydia said…
I am lucky, I guess, that I developed a love of pears early in life. My grandparents had a pear tree -- the only tree -- in their backyard in Brooklyn, and every Sunday when we went to visit, my cousins and I would climb that tree. In the fall, of course, we'd harvest the pears, and my grandmother would make pear sauce (like apple sauce) from the ones we didn't eat on our way to the kitchen. I like the sweet-salty combination, too. Will definitely try this recipe.
Mimi said…
As with most originals, it might need some tampering, according to individual tastes.

But I like the subtley of it.

Pear sauce! I should try that.

I was in my 20s before I appreciated pears. Now I cannot get enough of them.
L Vanel said…
Mimi, it looks delicious. The idea of taking a couple of pieces of fruit and making a dessert from it is very French too. Bravo.
This looks wonderful. Pears and ginger compliment each other~ I may have to top mine with pecans.
Love your blog, I'll visit again!
Terry B said…
This sounds delicious, Mimi! And you and I seem to be on the same wavelength--I did something original this week with pears too, that will be my coming Wednesday post.
Mimi said…
Bonjour, Lucy, it was delicious.

Sandi, that sounds good, too. I love pecans, especially roasted.

I adore fruit desserts and have made them so many different ways, my head spins when I think about it.

Cherry with almonds, peaches with pecans, so many possibilities...

Terry, great bloggers think alike! I can't wait for Wednesday!
Jann said…
this looks really delicious-i was just thinking about pears today, too-I like your recipe better than what I planned to post!
Mimi said…
Isn't it weird how we are all in sync?

And Christine started it all.
Kristen said…
I'm a sweet and salty lover too. I'm also a nibble while I cook kind of gal!
Your crisp looks so good!
Mimi said…
Kristen, I nibble while I cook all the time. I am sure I owe an entire hip to that habit.
FarmgirlCyn said…
I DO love pears, but they are so incredibly pricey in the winter. Anytime they go on sale, I get a bunch, but since my kids like them as much as me, I rarely get more than one. This sounds really good. I have a couple of "crisp" recipes, but always find the topping too sweet. I think the salty would be a nice addition. The ginger would give it a nice bite, I would think.
Christine said…
Thanks so much for the mention (twice!) Mimi. I love your creation - pears, ginger and salty almonds sound divine.
I like Sandi's idea of using pecans too.
I think it's wonderful when the "channeling" begins. It's happened to me so many times I can begin to count them.
And get this: while watching Emeril the other night, HE made a soup/stew concoction that was similar to one I've been making since before he was on TV! Now where did he get that recipe? Hmmm?
Glenna said…
Mimi--I'm not always a huge pear fan either but that sounds absolutely divine! Nice pics too.
Mimi said…
Cyn, I am just so pleased with this little experiment! I guess pears are a bit pricey.

I love it, Christine: Are you sure there is no Emeril spy in your kitchen? Great cooks (and I do like him) get the same ideas I guess.

Glenna, pears have a bite to them — almost a metallic taste — I think boscs less than others.
Anonymous said…
oh, D'Anjou's are the only pears I like to eat. they are so good in and of itself, especially the ones that are just ripe enough. Yummy!
Mimi said…
I love them, too, F2B — in fact, I never met a pear I did not like, now that I have acquired the gene.

I was just looking through a huge French cookbook of pear recipes for the future..
I haven't got salty almonds but I really would like to try this one.

I ate so many pears as a kid! My mom used to dice them and place the pieces in small plates around the house, and I would eat some while playing - since I didn't eat any food, I would at least eat some fruit.

This crisp looks great - I like salty/sweet combinations, too.
Mimi said…
Tanna, I think any salted nut would be interesting.

Your mother was very enlightened, Patricia.
Elizabeth said…
Mimi - I am a fan of pears, but never think of them when baking. Thanks for bringing them back to my consciousness! Love, love, love the photograph of the pears, too.
Mimi said…
Thanks, Elizabeth. I thought they looked like three geese trotting in the same direction.
Julie said…
This sounds wonderful. Just the thing to warm and brighten a wintry evening. And that sounds like my kind of breakfast too!
Mimi said…
Well, I don't normally do that for breakfast.

But t was fun to do it once in a while. A little decadent.
Linda said…
sounds delicious. pears are my favorite fruit and always seem to concoct the best desserts!
Mimi said…
Anyway you eat it, a pear for dessert is great. Even with cheese. I know Silton is what you always associate with a pear but I have been happy with other combinations.
Katie said…
I love pears as well. We are lucky enough to have 4 pear trees. I have made ginger-pear preserves which we love, but, mostly I just eat them.
Your dessert looks wonderful!
Mimi said…
Lucky you, Katie! I would love to have fruit trees.
Carole said…
Thanks for linking this in to Food on Friday. Cheers

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