Last week was the biggest week of my year. You see, for the last six years I have lived in Vancouver, BC, where Thanksgiving takes place in early October and is not quite as big a deal as it is in the USA. I mean it’s still fun but it’s a three day weekend not a four day weekend, and because it is in early October it doesn’t quite signal the start of the holiday season the way US Thanksgiving does.
This year, I felt like I had a marathon-long list of things to be thankful for, but first and foremost, I was/am beyond thankful for the opportunity to once again live in my favourite city in the world, surrounded by the majority of my favourite people.
So to show my gratitude and appreciation, I did what I do best: I baked.
I mean, I’m pretty sure I don’t know how to say thank you other than via baked goods.
For the record, the back four desserts were by me. I promise to tell you more about them this week.
Today I want to tell you about the dessert that was the most un-assuming. Second from the left – Gingerbread Pear-Cranberry Crisp.
I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen about a month ago, and immediately bookmarked it, thinking ‘I’ve got to make that for Thanksgiving.’ My family has a history of crisps on Thanksgiving, and since I had offered to be in charge of the desserts (really I announced I was doing them and I think everyone was too afraid of my butter and sugar crazed self to argue) I figured I had to include crisp as a hat-tip to tradition since I don’t really make pie…
I love pears, and I love cranberries, so I suspected the mix of tart and sweet flavours combined with the spiciness of the gingersnaps would be outstanding.
Well friends, I was right.
Not only was it delightful to look at, with the bright red cranberries giving this dessert a particularly festive flair. It was delicious. I was nervous that the topping, which is basically crushed cookies, some flour, spices, and butter, would be too crumbly, or powdery, but it clumped perfectly and retained its crispness until this particular dessert was finished off for breakfast on Friday morning.
The acidity from the cranberries and the lemon juice paired flawlessly with the mildness from the pears and gingerbread flavour just tied it all together.
So if you’re looking for an easy and delicious dessert to grace your holiday table (I suspect this would certainly be Christmas appropriate) then I suggest you do yourself a favour and make this crisp.
Pear, Cranberry and Gingersnap Crisp
Very Lightly Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons brown sugar
16 store-bought gingersnap cookies (I used the triple-ginger snaps from Trader Joes and it worked perfectly)
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup/1stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus some extra to butter the pan
2 pounds (about 4 to 5) large ripe pears peeled, halved, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice – about 1/2 a lemon
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon worth of zest)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (14 grams) cornstarch
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and lightly butter a 2 quart oven-proof baking dish
2. Combine flour, both the sugars, gingersnap crumbs, ginger, and salt. Pour in the melted butter and stir until mixture clumps.
3. To the baking dish add the pear, cranberries, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla. Stir to coat in lemon juice. In a separate small bowl whisk sugar and cornstartch, then add to fruit, mixing to ensure all fruit is coated.
4. Cover in the crisp topping. It will feel like a lot, but just use it all. Trust me on this one. Bake for 45 minutes until the topping is just a bit brown, and you can see juices bubbling through the topping and around the edges.