Desserts

Healthy Pear & Ginger Crisp

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The best pear crisp you’ve had, yet made with healthy & unrefined ingredients. I used all the flavor of coconut sugar & all the goodness of spelt flour. Gluten free oats and your choice of grass-fed butter or coconut oil make this dessert a healthy treat that tastes deliciously decadent.

And just like that, Christmas lurks only 2 months away… Like, how’s that even possible? Anyone else feels the same way? I feel am always caught off guard by the proximity of “the most wonderful time of the year”. Some of my happiest childhood memories are centered around this magical holiday. The smell of my mom’s cooking on Christmas is alive and well in my long-term memory. Smells of cinnamon, nutmeg, apples, fresh strawberry sauce, vanilla, & lemon zest all luring me into the kitchen. I would always find her there in her floral print robe and a firmly wrapped towel around her head- so that the smell of the food would not be absorbed by her hair. She was probably wiped out & dead tired, yet always bearing a smile and welcoming our help. And in the true spirit of Christmas, she always cooked for us and for those who could not afford a meal on that day.

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Looking back, she taught me that there was SO much more to Christmas than the mere act of “receiving” presents. She taught me to give, and she would always remind us how Christmas is perhaps, “the hardest time of the year” for a lot of people. It’s almost effortless to get caught up on all the shopping & presents, the endless mall visits, the jingles… and the list goes on and on. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love buying presents for others! I am just saying that cannot be the sole focus. My mother was always a breath of fresh air amid all the empty glitter. I would love to reprise that for my little family.

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This year I was thinking beyond the fruit cake staple, the European-inspired chocolate log cake, the no-fail strawberry cheesecake, the festive fruit & custard trifle… I was thinking about a caramelized pear upside down cake and that slowly morphed into a “Pear, Ginger & Vanilla Crisp”. I found the most beautiful, deep red Forelle pears at my local grocery store & they are unbelievably sweet & perfect for dessert-making endeavors.

In the spirit of this blog, I want to keep my food healthy without compromising taste. I experimented with coconut & almond flour until I settled on the wonderful density of spelt flour. Yes, it’s not exactly gluten-free. But spelt is an ancient grain that has never been genetically modified & some people with gluten intolerances can actually tolerate it very well. Am all for ancient grains making a comeback! I also used the best (hormone free) grass-fed butter in the land from Rolling Meadows Dairy. I ditched regular sugar in favor of unrefined, nutty coconut sugar. I used the best old fashioned rolled oats (GF) & this was all built over a base of fresh, sweet, caramelized pears. Hoping this recipe is one you’ll make every year, because I sure will! It tastes so good, and is equally wholesome & packed with great, unprocessed ingredients.

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Pear, Vanilla and Ginger Crisp

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 1 hour
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

Fruit Filling

  • 6 pears (Not overly ripe. Peeled, cored & cut into 1/4 inch slices)
  • 2 tbsp of pure maple syrup or raw honey
  • 1/3 cup of coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp of pure vanilla extract (I love Madagascar vanilla!)
  • 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1 tsp of freshly grated or ground ginger (optional)

Topping

  • 1 cup of spelt flour
  • 1 cup of (gluten-free) old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup of coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup of melted grass fed butter (about 4-5 tablespoons) OR coconut oil
  • pinch of sea salt (about 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 tbsp of coconut sugar (to sprinkle the top)

Substitutions

  • For vegan options: substitute grass fed butter with 4tbsp of coconut oil.
  • For gluten-free options= substitute 1 cup of spelt flour for 1 cup of blanched almond flour

Instructions:

  1. Heat the oven to 350F
  2. Wash, peel, core & slice the pears. I cut them in half right across the middle and then use each 1/2 to cut vertically & then across to create pear chunks as opposed to pear slices. I find pear chunks are thicker and hold the fruit base far better.
  3. Toss the pear chunks, maple syrup, coconut sugar, ginger, vanilla, cinnamon & nutmeg to ensure and even coating.
  4. Place the fruit filling on a pie dish.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients for the topping: spelt flour, coconut sugar, & oats. Once well mixed, incorporate the butter & mix until it’s evenly absorbed.
  6. A nice doughy paste will form, use clean hands to firmly press the mixture over the pears sitting on the pie dish.
  7. I like to always sprinkle some coconut sugar (about 1 tbsp) across the top to ensure it caramelizes/browns nicely.
  8. Bake for about 45-50 minutes or until golden and you see the edges bubbling with filling.
  9. I like to bake it by placing the pie dish over a cookie sheet to ensure the bottom does not burn or dry up.
  10. Enjoy warm with a dollop of dairy free coconut or vanilla ice cream OR with freshly made coconut whipped cream! To.die.for.

P.S. I published a recipe for homemade coconut whipped cream under “Pumpkin Pie” in the Desserts drop-down.

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