Sheet Pan

Revenge of the Pear Crisp

September 12, 2011
Author Notes

A month or so ago, we enjoyed a delicious meal with TasteFood (Lynda) and her gracious husband. ChezSuzanne (Susan) and her husband were also a part of this delightful evening. For dessert, Lynda served a berry crisp that sent my husband over the moon. He compared it to his mother's fruit crisp, the first I had ever heard of such a thing. A stab of envy went through me, thinking of my own inadequate and unremarkable apple crisps of the past.

There were more mentions of the scrumptious berry crisp during the long drive home to San Diego. By the time we hit LA traffic, I was determined to produce an updated fruit crisp of my own - and soon. The current theme gave me a perfect opportunity to try my luck with an autumnal pear crisp. Unfortunately, it is still summer here, so I walked past piles of perfect plums and peaches to pay an extraordinary price for a handful of Bartlett pears.

Next, I visited Williams Sonoma to select the precise ramekins I thought Lynda had used for her crisp. Then I began tweaking my recipe, adding lemon zest and crystallized ginger. I toasted sliced almonds and peeled those slippery pears.

When I finally served Larry a warm pear crisp, I held my breath. "Remember how you enjoyed Lynda's berry crisp?" I prompted. "Oh yeah," he replied. "Hers was wonderful, just like my mom's." [Pause.] "But yours is good too, honey." ...Sigh. - Lizthechef —Lizthechef

Test Kitchen Notes

Whoever coined the phrase “Revenge is a dish best served cold’ never heard of this gem. It's almost two desserts in one, the cinnamon-flavored crisp covering, laden with toasted almonds, concealing the bounty of ripe pears seasoned perfectly with crystallized ginger and a teensy touch of vanilla. The lemon zest and juice balance the dish so the pears don't taste cloyingly sweet and one-dimensional. In short, this is a classic that I plan to make repeatedly, especially since it got such a hearty approval from my borderline dessert–averse other half! - Panfusine —Panfusine

  • Serves 4
  • Pears
  • 4 Bartlett pears
  • 1 teaspoon Meyer lemon zest, or any lemon
  • 2 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice, or any lemon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons crystallized ginger, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 tablespoon all- purpose flour
  • Topping
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 pound cold unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
  • 1 pinch kosher salt
In This Recipe
  1. Peel, halve and core the pears. Cut them into bite-sized pieces and place in a shallow bowl.
  2. Add the lemon zest, lemon juice, vanilla and chopped ginger. Stir gently to mix.
  3. Add the sugar and flour. Mix and set pears aside.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  5. Using a small skillet, lightly toast the almonds over medium-low heat for about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
  6. Using a standing mixer with a paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar, cinnamon and salt. Mix for 2 minutes on medium-low speed. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the toasted almonds.
  7. Fill 4 6-oz. ramekins with equal portions of the prepared pears.
  8. Use your hands to shape the topping into a ball. Cut the topping into 4 portions. Again use your hands to pat out a circle of topping to cover each ramekin.
  9. Place the filled ramekins on a sheet pan. Bake for 45 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned and the fuit is bubbling. Serve warm or at room temperature with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
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