Tarte Tatin and Apple 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, but now I've got it.
After reading Christine's original recipe for Roasted Celeriac and D'Anjou Pear Soup, I was craving pears Saturday night. It was too cold to go out, even to the grocery store so, as is my custom, I took stock of leftovers, and uncovered one D'Anjou pear and a trio of Boscs. The latter are best for eating fresh, but they were looking a bit scruffy so it was time to use them. While rummaging through the cupboards, I spied some salted almonds that were about to get old and my newly-purchased jar of candied ginger.
The thought of salted almonds with a hint of buttery sweetness, coupled with juicy pears tempered by ginger galvanized me. Here is my original (I hope) recipe:
Pear-Ginger Crisp with Salted Almond Topping
6 D'Anjou pears, peeled and cut into small chunks
one tablespoon candied ginger, cut into small chunks
1/4 cup Splenda or other sweetener
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup salted almonds, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cold cup unsalted butter or Smart Balance, cut into small pieces
1/3 cup Spenda/Brown Sugar Blend
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Chop the pears and 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. Tamp down. Spread the crust mix evenly over the top; again tamping down. Bake for 45-55 minutes or until crust turns golden brown. Garnish with candied ginger.
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 would be good with Celestial Seasonings' Pefectly Pear White Tea.
This light dessert passed the Ultimate Taste Test, and I ate it for breakfast with a hunk of low-fat cheddar cheese.