A few years back I subscribed to Martha Stewart's Everyday Food magazine, and while it is no longer in print, I've saved my copies and still turn to them when I need cooking inspiration. I like the idea of being able to throw a recipe magazine into my pack on the way out the door; it's much lighter than a cookbook! That's how I came across this recipe.
I'm fortunate to live in a region where pears are grown, and because of their abundance and variety, I was drawn to this particular recipe. It suggests using Bartlett or Anjou - I used Anjou, and as soon as I started cutting into them, I realized why this variety is suggested. They are very similar to an apple in that they are a firm fruit; perfect for baking into a crisp on an autumn day.
Pear and Cranberry Crisp
3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not quick-cooking)
1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1/4 cup blanched almonds, chopped
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 pounds pears, such as Bartlett or Anjou (about 6), cored, peeled, and cut into half inch pieces
1/4 cup finely chopped crystallized ginger (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine oats, 1/3 cup brown sugar, flour, almonds, cinnamon, and salt. With your hands or a pastry cutter, work in butter until large clumps form.
2) In a large bowl, gently toss together pears, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, ginger (if using), cranberries, and cornstarch. Transfer to an 8-inch square baking dish and sprinkle with oat mixture.
3) Bake until juices are bubbling and topping is browned and crisp, 20 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
If you are contemplating whether to use the crystallized ginger, I would suggest adding it. The ginger and the cranberries are the perfect compliment to the sweetness of the pears and the brown sugar. In fact, I would suggest cutting back on the brown sugar to just less than the 1/3 cup and skipping the extra 2 tablespoons that are mixed into the pears. Those are just my personal preferences.