Nothing heralds the start of the holiday season like the scent of cinnamon in the air. Crisps, pies, tarts, brown betty’s, and gallettes all provide the perfect medium by which to feature this most comforting and soulful of spices. Our winter desserts always seem to involve cinnamon, its faithful running mate, nutmeg and some combination of apples, pears, cranberries and sometimes pumpkin.
And while to many these desserts may appear pedestrian and rather banal, I tend to think of them in a more romantic, Norman Rockwell, Americana kind of way. They appeal to my sense of history, tradition, and family as well as the holiday spirit.
All right….may be that’s a bit much, but on a cold winter’s day, with a scoop of melting vanilla ice cream, an apple crisp is a great big hug in a bowl…
This particular version turns up the volume a bit on the traditional crisp with the addition of fresh lemon and orange juice to add the brightness of citrus flavors, while dried cranberries provide a tart and tangy contrast to the sweetness of the apples and pears. Pecans bring some much appreciated crunch to the buttery, oatmeal topping. Mmmmm…
1 pound ripe Bosc pears (2 pears)
1 pound Granny Smith apples (3 apples)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the topping:
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp granulated sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp light brown sugar, lightly packed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (do not add salt if using the vegan butter)
1/2 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
1/4 pound (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, diced (I used Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Stick http://www.earthbalancenatural.com/product/vegan-buttery-sticks/)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Peel and core the pears and apples.
Cut them into large chunks and place the fruit in a large bowl and toss with the cranberries, juices, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Pour into a 8-inch round baking dish.
For the topping:
Combine the flour, sugars, salt, oatmeal, and cold butter in the bowl. Mix, using your hands, until the mixture is in pea-sized crumbles. Add pecans and mix.
Sprinkle evenly over the fruit, covering the fruit completely.
Place the baking dish on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, until the top is brown and the fruit is bubbly. Serve warm with vanilla or soy ice cream.
Recipe adapted from Barefoot Contessa at Home