Saturday, February 20, 2010

Pear-Ginger Crumble

When you’re craving something sweet, sometimes chocolate is the only answer. However, there are other times, perhaps after a heavy meal, when chocolate seems just a bit too much, a touch to rich. Times such as those are ripe for fruit-filled desserts. Such was the case for the Valentine’s Day dinner I told you about earlier this week. I had prepared a pretty hearty, carbo-loaded meal. Rosemary foccacia and roasted beet risotto. In my carb-loving defense, we had an Arugula salad too, just to balance things out. But for dessert, I knew I wanted to make something on the lighter side. And in truth, it’s a good thing I did. We were so full from dinner we had to wait a couple of hours before we could dig in to the dessert. But it was worth the wait.

This pear-ginger crumble is a perfect, light dessert…or indulgent breakfast. Not only is it made with fruit, but the crumbly topping is much healthier than most, relatively speaking. It uses canola oil to bind the oat and brown sugar topping together rather than the usual stick (or two) of butter. While this does result in a slightly different texture than your average fruit crumble, it is completely delicious in its own way. Plus you don’t have to feel guilty about going back for seconds. (If you’ve got a few calories to spare, check out one of my other favorite fruit desserts.)

I have made this recipe many times, and it is always well received. The fresh ginger added to the pear filling adds a nice warmth and depth of flavor without overpowering the fresh fruit taste. Once, when I was out of fresh ginger root, I substituted some chopped candied ginger instead. The flavor profile remained the same, so feel free to use whatever kind of ginger you have on hand. In a pinch, you could also try a very small amount of powdered ground ginger.

Pear-Ginger Crumble
Adapted from The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger

For the Topping:
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 cup canola oil

For the Filling:
3 lbs. firm, ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. peeled and grated fresh ginger
2 T. granulated sugar
1 1/2 T. all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, combine all of the topping ingredients. Use your fingers or a fork to work them together until all of the ingredients are moistened and well-combined.

In a large bowl, combine the pears, lemon juice, and ginger. Add the granulated sugar and the all-purpose flour, and stir to combine.

Transfer the pear mixture to the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle the oatmeal mixture evenly over the top.

Bake 40 minutes, or until the pears are tender and the topping is golden brown.

Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve warm or at room temperature, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream if desired.

Serves 6 to 8.

** If not eaten right away, the crumble can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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