Thursday, August 13, 2009

Oatmeal Ginger Pear Crisp

I had planned on making Pear-Ginger Preserves today, but quickly realized that my bounty of (free) little pears were too soft to stand up to the rigors of canning. The pear preserves would more than likely become pear mush, and I didn't want to go to all the trouble of canning them only to end up with something I didn't want. What I also hadn't reckoned with were the interesting things that you can sometimes find in homegrown fruit. Enough said. It turns out that in the end, I wouldn't have had enough pears for the preserves anyway. So, there I was with a bowlful of peeled, cored, cut up, not-so-firm pears in lemon water. A mad panicky search ensued; tearing through my cookbooks for a recipe that called for thusly prepped pears. Cook's Illustrated came through, as they often do. I had wanted something simple (you may well wonder why I was looking in Cook's Illustrated), and I found the perfect thing: a Pear Crisp. Simplicity itself. It required roughly the same amount of pears that were sitting prepped and waiting, ever so patiently, on my counter. After a little tweaking (because of all the stuff I didn't have), the dessert went together quite fast. I even used the food processor again. Two days in a row... maybe I should just leave it out on the counter next to the toaster? Nah.

Oatmeal Ginger Pear Crisp
Adapted from the Pear Crisp recipe on page 23, Cook's Illustrated, September/October 2007.

For the topping:
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
6 pieces crystallized ginger, chopped
2 Tblsp sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tblsp melted butter, cooled
1/2 cup old fashioned oats

For the filling:

2 Tblsp sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp cornstarch
2 tsp lemon juice
15 small pears

Preheat oven to 425°. Place rack in lower-center position. Place all topping ingredients except butter and oatmeal into food processor. Pulse in 1-second bursts until nuts are finely chopped. Add melted cooled butter to nut mixture and pulse until wet and crumbly looking. Add oatmeal and pulse until evenly distributed. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together all filling ingredients except for pears. Peel and core the pears, then cut them into chunks no smaller than 1-inch. Toss the cut up pears with the lemon and sugar mixture in bowl. Pour into an 8x8-inch baking dish. Crumble the topping evenly over the pears with your fingers. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, or until topping is browned and juices are bubbling.

Cool on rack for 20 minutes before serving.

P.S. It's another "dessert today, breakfast tomorrow" recipe! I'm really liking these. They're so very versatile...
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