By Freya Bellin
Now that the weather has finally cooled down enough to use the oven again, I’ve been in the mood to bake. With apples and pears coming into season, choosing a dessert wasn’t very difficult. Apples may be the standard fruit for a crisp, but pears are a particularly good candidate because they tend to get a little beaten up between the market and home, and this is a great use for any that become mushy.
This was my first time cooking with cardamom, which is a really unique spice, as it turns out. It isn’t sweet like cinnamon is, but still gives off that warm, comforting aroma. I actually sprinkled in about ½ teaspoon of cinnamon with the pears too, for some extra flavor and sweetness. The crisp topping is perfect as is, and as noted in the instructions, it certainly can be made without an electric mixer if you don’t have one. I creamed the butter and sugar with a fork, and, though a bit labor-intensive, it worked well.
If you’re bringing the dessert elsewhere, keep in mind that pears let off a lot of liquid in baking, which makes traveling with this a bit precarious. Just be sure to keep the pan upright. All that pear juice also makes it necessary to eat the dessert right away if you want the top layer to stay crispy. Personally, I think it’s also great cold, and if you’re feeling decadent, try it for breakfast the next morning. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.
Cardamom-Scented Pear Crisp
Makes: 6 to 8 servings
Time: 40 to 50 minutes
Even imperfect, not-quite-ripe pears will become tender and richly flavored when baked in a crisp (apples, of course, are another good way to go). What makes this crisp especially lovely is cardamom, an assertive, warm spice, traditional in baking (especially in Sweden) with a wonderfully home-filling aroma.
4 tablespoons (1⁄2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup rolled oats
1⁄2 cup whole wheat flour
Pinch of salt
3 pounds pears, cored and sliced
1 teaspoon cardamom
1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Grease an 8- or 9-inch square or round baking dish with a little butter. Cream the 4 tablespoons butter, oil, and sugar together using an electric mixer or fork. Stir in the nuts, lemon juice, oats, flour, and salt until combined and crumbly. (You can make the topping ahead to this point; tightly wrap, and refrigerate for up to a day or freeze for up to several weeks; thaw before proceeding.)
2. Put the pears in the prepared dish, sprinkle with the cardamom, and toss. Crumble the topping over all. Bake until the filling is bubbly and the crust is just starting to brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve immediately, or at least while still warm.