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Pear Cranberry Crisp

December 26, 2013

Pear Cranberry Crisp (Gluten-Free)Pin it!

Earlier this fall, Paula and I had a dinner party, and I was overly ambitious with the menu and the cooking plan.

Nothing new there—I always make WAY too much food for our little gatherings; the only difference this time was that Paula stepped in and stopped me from going completely overboard on the dessert. So I made an apple galette (like this one, except with apples instead of apricots, and blueberry jam instead of almond flour) a day in advance of the party, but nixed my plans to try combining pears and cranberries into a crisp.

(I suppose it’s true that if you bake a galette and buy a quart of vanilla ice cream, you can probably stop right there and still be forgiven.)

Pear Cranberry Crisp (Gluten-Free)Pin it!

This worked out fine because I still had plenty of other cleaning, soup-making, and dish-washing tasks to do before the party. And when I finally tried out this recipe later that week, Paula and I got the entire 8 square inches of crisp to ourselves. It only took a few desserts and a breakfast or two to devour it all.

Since then (early November), I’ve made this four or five times. This recipe—like last year’s Cranberry Apple Crisp which inspired it—is a keeper.

Pear Cranberry Crisp with cardamom (gluten-free)Pin it!

The main difference between the two recipes (other than Apples v. Pears) is that this one is much, much easier. Since last year (thanks to this recipe), I’ve realized that cranberries are not the sturdy little marbles of bitterness I once thought they were—they don’t actually require the pre-cooking in a skillet (with sugar and orange zest) that I assumed they did, especially if you’re still going to stick them in an oven alongside other ingredients.

Making Pear Cranberry Crisp with cardamom (gluten-free)

Instead, raw cranberries can be straightforwardly tossed together with sliced pears and a generous sprinkling of ground cardamom to produce little tart juicy pockets of sourness that stand out against the sugary pears.

Making Pear Cranberry Crisp with cardamom (gluten-free)

In other words, this crisp is very simple to assemble (which is true of most crisps, and one of the reasons I love them); the only ingredients aside from the topping are pears, cranberries, cardamom, and cinnamon—the pears are so sweet, no additional sugar is needed.

Making Pear Cranberry Crisp with cardamom and cinnamon

Also nice: the crumbly topping is a low-maintenance melted butter situation. No need to worry about keeping the butter cold (which is always the moment I become aware of just how hot my hands feel—good circulation is no friend of pastry-making), and even more importantly, no need to worry about the fussiness of perfectly softened butter.

Making Pear Cranberry Crisp with cardamom (gluten-free)

I continue to love this type of gluten-free crisp topping made with oats* and almond meal or finely ground almonds. You can also toss in some coarsely chopped nuts, like pecans, for added crunchy texture.

Making Pear Cranberry Crisp with cardamom (gluten-free)

There is something about cardamom-scented pears (or cardamom-scented anything really) that seems so cozy and inviting. I tend to enjoy baking with pears more than snacking on them, since fresh pears are almost too sweet for me unless they’re slightly underripe. Pear crisps are a lovely way to celebrate the fall and get my fill of pears; the addition of tart, colorful cranberries takes this dessert into winter.

Making Pear Cranberry Crisp with cardamom and cinnamon

Many subscribe to the theory that some people are pie people while others are cake people. If I had to take sides, I’d choose the pie side any day, but I am not really a pie person despite my conviction that baked fruit and buttery crust are superior to most cakes with low frosting-to-cake ratios.

I am not really a pie person despite my love in recent years of experimenting with fruit tarts and galettes.

Making Pear Cranberry Crisp with cardamom (gluten-free)

It’s not that I’m not a dessert person; I just like it when desserts can be whipped up quickly and simply (and in advance), then set aside to make way for the cooking that I enjoy more than baking. Especially in the case of a dinner party, when the dessert can always be chilled and re-heated later, but you want your soups and entrées and maybe even your appetizers to be just-cooked and still warm.

Pear Cranberry Crisp with cardamom (gluten-free)Pin it!

So because of all that, I can never truly be a pie person—at least not when I’m the one making the pie. I am more of a lazy version of one: I’m a crisp person.

Pear Cranberry Crisp with cardamom (gluten-free)

* Check to make sure the oats were made in a gluten-free facility if that’s important for you.

Print this recipe. (PDF)


Pear Cranberry Crisp

(Serves 6-8)

Active time: 20 minutes; Total time: 1.5 hours.

Crisp Ingredients:
~ 5-6 Bosc pears (firm but ripe)
~ 1 tsp. ground cardamom
~ ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
~ 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, picked over

For the Crisp Topping:
~ ¾ cup brown sugar, packed
~ ⅔ cup almond meal (finely ground almonds)
~ ⅔ cup rolled oats
~ 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
~ ½ tsp. ground cardamom
~ ¼ tsp. salt
~ 6 Tbsp. butter, melted and slightly cooled
~ ⅓ cup pecans (or other nut), roughly chopped

How to make it:

1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and pre-heat to 350 degrees. Peel and evenly slice the pears, tossing them into an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle the cardamom and cinnamon over the pears, and gently toss them so the spices are evenly distributed, then pour in the cranberries, making sure those are spread out evenly as well. Set aside.

Bosc pears and cranberries for Pear Cranberry Crisp with cardamomMaking Pear Cranberry Crisp with cardamom

2. Make the crisp topping: In a medium bowl, whisk together all topping ingredients except the butter. Once the melted butter has cooled slightly, add the melted butter and stir with a rubber spatula to incorporate it. Then use your fingers to pinch together small clusters of the topping as you sprinkle it over the fruit.

Making Pear Cranberry Crisp with cardamom (gluten-free)Making Pear Cranberry Crisp with cardamom (gluten-free)

3. Bake for 1 hour, or 1 hour and 10 minutes (until the fruit juices are bubbling), checking periodically after 45 minutes to see if the crisp is starting to brown too much on top (if so, cover with foil for the rest of the baking time). Let cool before serving.

Make the crisp ahead of time: cover and chill in the refrigerator for up to several days, then bring to room temperature and re-warm briefly in the oven. Serve either warm or at room temperature.

Print this recipe! (PDF)

Pear Cranberry Crisp with cardamom (gluten-free)

Pear Cranberry Crisp with cardamom (gluten-free)Pin it!

Related recipe posts:

Pear and Pomegranate Salad with Hazelnuts Pear Brown Butter Buckle Zesty Lemon Lime Bars Skillet Cranberry Apple Crisp (Gluten-Free)
Pear and Pomegranate Salad with Hazelnuts Pear Brown Butter Buckle Zesty Lemon Lime Bars Skillet Cranberry Apple Crisp (Gluten-Free)
34 Comments leave one →
  1. December 26, 2013 9:31 am


  2. December 26, 2013 10:49 am

    This looks so delicious! Perfect for all of those leftover harry and david gifts! ;)

  3. December 26, 2013 1:42 pm

    This looks amazing! My family makes a similar recipe, but with canned yams and cranberries and a similar topping.

    • December 26, 2013 4:25 pm

      Thanks! Wow, that sounds interesting—I’ve seen dishes with yams/sweet potatoes and crumbly crisp toppings before, but never with cranberries mixed in. I love all of those flavors individually though. This crisp would be really nice for Christmas (even though I posted it the day after…) and your family’s cranberry/yam dish sounds perfect for Christmas, too!

  4. December 26, 2013 2:29 pm

    I love it when a sweet dish that isn’t a calorific trap makes me think, ‘whoa’.your recipe has just done that for me x

    • December 26, 2013 4:26 pm

      Thanks, Deena! I’m flattered that you would say so.

      Despite having a sweet tooth and loving many buttery/sugary desserts, I also love simpler desserts like this one that are slightly tart and that just let the fresh fruit flavors shine through. :)

  5. December 26, 2013 4:45 pm

    Such a great dessert to not over-indulge but enjoy a delicious treat :D


  6. December 26, 2013 8:03 pm

    That looks sooo good. If I want something really sweet I’ll go for candy, but for a dessert I’m too German to want sweet. I like the fruity things. And that one looks like it was made just for me.

    • January 2, 2014 9:55 am

      Thanks! I think I share your taste in desserts—I definitely like the occasional sweet cookie-like treat, but I mostly love tart, fruity desserts over chocolatey ones… if given a choice, I’d take fruit crisps or tarts over cake any day!

  7. December 26, 2013 9:13 pm

    I love a crisp and this looks delicious (and indulgently healthy)!

    • January 2, 2014 9:56 am

      Thanks, Laura! I love a good crisp, too! And this is pretty healthy, come to think of it. Perfect to serve alongside some rich vanilla ice cream. ;)

  8. December 27, 2013 1:06 pm

    Yum the flavors and textures of this dessert are right up my alley. Delish!

  9. December 27, 2013 4:06 pm

    Congratulations Allison. I’ve awarded you the Blog of the Year, 2013. Check out my two blogs on the awards to see the awards and the rules (which you really don’t have to do anything about unless you want to) and display the awards proudly. Angie

  10. December 27, 2013 4:48 pm

    Lovely! I have a bag of fresh cranberries to use and have been racking my brain trying to figure out what to do with them. This looks fantastic!

    • January 2, 2014 10:02 am

      Awesome! I was the same way—I went through a crazy number of bags of fresh cranberries this year (um… now that it’s 2014 I guess I mean last year, over the past few weeks…), and not just because I made this crisp 3 or 4 times! Eventually I was looking for other recipes to use them up, too. I even tried baking fresh cranberry cookies and cranberry orange quickbread (both firsts for me), but this crisp was the best. :)

  11. December 28, 2013 5:45 pm

    Oh looks sooo good. I always make apple crisp for my nephew because he is the only kid I know who doesn’t like chocolate. Will have to make this one for him.

    • January 2, 2014 10:04 am

      Thanks! And yes, this sounds perfect for your nephew—I hope he likes the tart pockets of cranberries, too. You could also take a look at my cranberry apple crisp if he prefers apples to pears. It’s definitely the rare kid who doesn’t like chocolate, but I remember one of my cousins who’s my little sister’s age also always hated chocolate (and I could never wrap my mind around that!).

  12. afracooking permalink
    December 29, 2013 11:54 am

    Yum, perfect for breakfast during these cold winter days!

    • January 2, 2014 10:05 am

      Definitely! I think Paula thinks it’s too sweet to eat it for breakfast, but I definitely snuck a few servings for breakfast—it’s really no more dessert-y than a bowl of granola, and with lots more fresh fruit!

  13. December 31, 2013 12:59 pm

    This looks delicious! I might indulge tonight for New Years, and put a little vanilla ice cream on it. Thanks for sharing this recipe!

  14. January 2, 2014 12:19 am

    What a gorgeous recipe Allison! It’s been too long since I’ve stopped over here, love everything you’ve posted… but those fresh cranberries and the delicious cinnamon-y topping definitely ‘take the cake’ (or ‘crisp’, I guess!). Happy new year beautiful! x

    • January 2, 2014 10:13 am

      Thank you so much! I will take that as high praise coming from you, because I am in awe of your blog and your photographs—even though I definitely don’t stop by as often as I would like to. (For example, since my parents are here now and have been visiting me the past two weeks, I’m being anti-social only long enough to respond to my own blog comments, but not long enough to check out anyone else’s blogs lately… can’t make keep them waiting too long for their daily beach walk!)

      Happy new year to you, too!

  15. January 2, 2014 5:24 am

    I made this yesterday for New Years. It was so easy to assemble, and then bake off while we were eating dinner. Paired it with vanilla ice cream. It was a huge hit! None was left!

    • January 2, 2014 10:14 am

      Thanks, Laura! I’m so glad to hear it—your comment made my day! :)

      I’m impressed that none was left (that’s always a little disappointing… haha). And great idea to bake it while eating dinner!

  16. January 3, 2014 12:09 pm

    Oh this crisp looks so delicious! I am ready to make it asap!

  17. January 24, 2014 3:17 am

    I clicked on your blog because I fell in love with the name of it as soon as I read it. Glad that I did, because your recipes are pretty delightful too! Love this recipe, it looks delish!

    • February 9, 2014 1:12 pm

      Thanks, Gabby! I’m not sure how this comment slipped through the cracks, but I’m sorry for my delay in responding. It makes me happy to hear that others enjoy the name of my blog, too (even though I know some people hate how hard it is to spell… haha). (If you’re curious, the story of how I came up with the name is in my chilaquiles recipe post.)


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