On Crisps, Friendships, and Order
I like to think that there’s a bit of order to life. While I don’t necessarily believe in fate, I do feel pretty strongly that there’s some latent, underlying intelligence and order and structure that permeates our reality. The cycles and flows and ebbs that characterize the existence of every organism on this planet are in a perpetual dance, an ecstatic rhythm. Which is about as good of a segue into talking about the glorious Pear, Cranberry & Ginger Crumble shown above as any.
Back in November, I held a gathering for my new book, Handmade Gatherings, at Small Terrain, the small-scale homesteading supply shop run by my dear friend Natalie. Since it was her shop, I asked her to craft the guest list. One of the guests I had the pleasure of meeting that day was Karie. In her denim smock dress (with pockets! Love me a dress with pockets, and a woman who similarly appreciates them), Karie and her boyfriend, Rob, were adorable, interesting, creative, and personable. A winning mix. And while I was instantly taken by their company, I was even more so smitten by their crisp.
Many a crisp has been egregiously wronged, in my estimation. Not enough butter, oil instead of butter (horror of horrors), a watery interior, too damp of a topping, excess sweetener, a browned top-the list of transgressions I’ve witnessed inflicted upon crisps far and wide is extensive, and sad. That fateful autumn day, though, Karie redeemed all the crisps that have preceded hers for me.
Based on Smitten Kitchen’s recipe, Karie’s offering was buttery, crunchy, gingery, perfectly sweet, well-set, toothsome, and, well, crisp. It hit every note. Last week, I became obsessed with making it. Cold winter evenings beg for a bowl of warmed crisp, preferably topped with something creamy, sweet, and dairy-based.
Thank you, Karie, for your stand-up crisp. Thank you, universe, for sending her my way, and for the friendship and eats that have been developed as a result.
Here’s the recipe, with Karie’s amended ingredients and Deb’s instructions:
Pear, Cranberry and Ginger Crumble
-1 cup AP flour
-1/4 cup demerara sugar
-3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar (or more demerara sugar with maple syrup in it)
-1 cup gingersnap crumbs (about 16 cookies)
-1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
-1/8 teaspoon sea salt
-1/2 cup (4 ounces or 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
*I put them in a bag and hit them with a jar and it was SO SATISFYING
-2 pounds (about 4 to 5) large ripe pears (I used 2 Barlett, 2 Asian pears)
-1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) fresh cranberries
-1 tablespoon lemon juice
-3/4 teaspoon lemon zest
-1 teaspoon maple syrup (I don’t know if this really does anything or just makes me feel better about the world)
-1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1/2 cup demerara sugar
-2 tablespoons cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Stir together the flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, gingersnap crumbs, ginger and salt. Stir in the melted butter until large crumbs form.
In a 1 1/2 to 2 quart baking dish, mix the pears, cranberries, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk the sugar and cornstarch together then toss it with the fruit mixture in the pan.
Sprinkle the gingersnap crumble over the fruit. Set the crumble on a foil-lined baking sheet (in a 2 quart dish, mine didn’t come close to bubbling over but I see no reason to risk it) and bake it for about 45 minutes, until the crumble is a shade darker and you see juices bubbling through the crumbs.