Pear Crisp

pear crisp

I’m not sure how we ended up with so many pears in the house this week, but we did.  I really wanted to make a gingerbread pear cake, but the recipe only called for one pear – and we had at least 6 that I needed to bake with or else they would go bad.  So, I searched and searched until I found a recipe I was satisfied with that used a lot of pears.  Somehow, I managed to find an amazing recipe – one that I will definitely make again – even if I don’t have a lot of pears to get rid of.  This recipe comes from Cafe Juanita in Kirkland, WA.  I know why the head chef there won a James Beard award – she knows what she is doing.  If you do not have a vanilla bean handy, you need to go to the store and get one (hopefully from the bulk foods section) because this is definitely the key to this delicious crisp.  Also – same goes for the apple brandy, just call all your neighbors, one of them is bound to have some.  Then give them a crisp in return…although they are so good you may not want to part with any.


For topping

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup whole almonds with skin, unsalted 
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For filling

  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 3 lb firm-ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears (about 6), peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons pear brandy or eau-de-vie


  • Equipment: 6 (8-ounce) gratin dishes or shallow ramekins


Make topping:
Pulse together flour, almonds, brown sugar, salt, sugar and cinnamon in a food processor until nuts are finely chopped. Add butter and pulse just until blended. Coarsely crumble in a shallow baking pan and chill at least 1 hour.

Make filling and bake crisps:
Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in middle.

Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into a small heavy saucepan, then add pod and butter and cook over medium-low heat, swirling pan occasionally, until butter is browned and fragrant, about 4 minutes.

While butter browns, stir together sugars, flour, and a pinch of salt in a large bowl. Add pears and brandy and toss to combine.

Discard vanilla pod, then toss butter with pear mixture. Spoon filling into gratin dishes and sprinkle with topping, mounding it slightly in centers. Put in a shallow baking pan and bake 30 minutes, then rotate baking sheet and bake until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbling, 10 to 15 minutes more. Cool to warm or room temperature on a rack.

For a printer friendly version of this recipe, click here:  Pear Crisp

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2 thoughts on “Pear Crisp

  1. This is delicious! Even the left-overs, microwaved, are outstanding. I’ll have to be creative about calling neighbors for brandy and going to the store for fresh vanilla bean, though, since I live in the STICKS! Or, maybe I’ll just plan ahead. Thanks, Dawn!

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