Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Harvest Pear Crisp

This dessert makes a lovely finish to a late September meal, now that pears are in peak season. Fruit crisps have all the flavors of a fresh-baked pie, but are much simpler to put together.

  • 6 cups (1/2-inch thick) sliced Anjou pear*
  • 1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup vegan sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup packed vegan brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons vegan butter
  • 1/3 cup regular oats
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1. Combine the sliced pears in a 2-quart baking dish with the lemon juice, tossing to coat.  In a small bowl, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon of the cinnamon; add the cornstarch mixture to the pear mixture and toss to coat.

2. Lightly spoon the flour into a dry measuring cup and level with a knife.  Combine the flour in a food processor with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt; pulse 2 to 3 times, until the mixture is combined.  Cut the butter into small pieces, and add to the food processor; pulse 6 to 8 times, until the mixture resembles coarse meal.

3. Add the oats and walnuts and pulse a final 2 to 3 times.  Sprinkle the flour mixture evenly over the pear mixture.

4 Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes - the pears should be tender and the topping a nice golden brown.  Let cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes, at which point you can serve the crisp warm, or let it cool further to room temperature.

This crisp is incredibly versatile when it comes to making it for company; prepare it in advance, and pop in the oven when guests sit down to dinner.  Or even easier, bake it in advance, and just bring back to room temperature before serving.

It's perfect a la mode with a scoop of vanilla Soy Delicious ice cream:

Or for a more grown-up treat, try pairing with a late harvest (ice wine) Riesling:

I have a weakness for sweet dessert wines like this, and have been on the lookout for a certified vegan one for ages. I finally found a gem of a New York winery, King Ferry Winery, which specifies that their late harvest Riesling - as well as other varietals from their estate - are vegan-friendly. You can order the late harvest Riesling here. 

*I specify Anjou pear for this recipe because its rounder shape makes for more even slices, and it holds up well during baking. Bartlett pears would also work nicely, however. Core the pears first, then cut lengthwise into slices.

Nutrition Info:
8 servings (1 portion), Calories 285 

Tasting Notes:
Decadently delicious although - and here's something I don't say very often - a little too sweet.  Between the granulated sugar in the filling and the brown sugar on top, this was sugar sugar sugar in every bite. I'd prefer if the pears took center stage, and would decrease the sugar significantly. But the rest was great; I loved the rustic feel from leaving the peel on the pears, and the oats and walnuts in the topping were toasted and warm. Serving with vanilla soy ice cream added a layer of creaminess to the dish, and it brought out the best in the sweet sips of dessert wine.


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