This dessert holds a very special place in my heart. Not only do I usually make it with pears from my mother-in-law's farm ...
... see them growing on her trees? ...
... it's also the dessert I served the night my parents and my husband (then boyfriend!) met for the first time ... back in February, 2003. Hard to believe Mark and I have been together for almost ten years now!
We had been dating for only about five weeks when these all-important introductions were made. My parents and I were leaving on a cruise to celebrate my Dad's retirement, so they had traveled to my place in Charlotte the night before we left. I invited Mark over for dessert so the three of them could meet.
Meeting-the-boyfriend-or-girlfriend's-parents is so nerve-wracking, isn't it?? I'm sooooo glad I don't have to go through that anymore!
Anyway, apparently the introductions evening went well ... 'cause just four months later, Mark and I were engaged ... and Mom, Dad, and Mark get along fabulously.
Now, that night's Pear-Walnut Crisp was made with store-bought pears. But now ... now I'm fortunate to have a supply of late-summer home-grown pears.
We've found that our home-grown pears have a thicker skin than store-bought ones and are too 'chewy' in the crisp, so we peel them. When working with store-bought pears there's no need to peel. Unless, you know, you have an issue with pear skin. Then by all means, peel away to your heart's content.
Just toss pear slices with a bit of sugar and cinnamon, top with an oats-and-brown-sugar-and-butter topping, toss in some chopped walnuts, bake it up ...
... and you've got one delicious and comforting dessert.
Throw on a scoop of vanilla ice cream, frozen yogurt, or a little whipped cream ... or go plain ...whatever you prefer. Mmmmmmm ... one of my favorite desserts. And not just because of the wonderful memory that goes with it.
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Source: Adapted from Cooking Light magazine
6 c. sliced pears (about 3 lbs.)
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1/3 c. sugar
1 T. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon, divided
1/3 c. flour
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
3 T. cold butter, cut in small pieces
1/3 c. oats
1/4 c. coarsely chopped walnuts
1. Core pears and cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch thick slices. (You don't need to peel the pears unless they have a thick skin.) Combine pears and lemon juice in a 2-quart baking dish; toss gently to coat the pears with lemon juice.
2. Combine sugar, cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon of the ground cinnamon; stir together with a whisk. Add this mixture to the pears, tossing well to coat the pears.
3. Combine flour, remaining 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt. With a fork, pastry cutter, or your fingers, work in the butter pieces until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add oats and chopped walnuts. Sprinkle this mixture evenly over the pears.
4. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, or until pears are tender and the topping is golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.
This crisp is delicious plain, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, or with freshly whipped cream.