nothing matters — ginger blueberry pear crisp

by hungryrabbit on November 17, 2011

Ginger Blueberry Pear Crisp

Oh dear, it’s almost Thanksgiving–whatever happened to autumn? Ever since our Labor Day vacation in Ogunquit, Maine, the weeks just flew by in a blur. M has been extra busy with his work and travels. I filled the days with rehearsing for a dance competition, planning for the Pie Party and now it’s almost time for cooking for Thanksgiving and baking for the Cookie Swap in a few weeks. Oh, yes, there was some work in there, too.

Between the two of us, it has been hard to find time to do . . .  nothing. So, it will be truly a pleasure to be upstate for Thanksgiving. We will have no family to entertain and no dinner parties to plan. It will just be the two of us spending down time with each other. I will cook us breakfast as if it were a Sunday brunch, herbed omelets with smoked salmon from Russ and Daughters, buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, perhaps even with sauté caramel apples. We’ll have rustic soups like white beans and escarole or silky butternut squash bisque. Dinner, no doubt I will make seafood dishes that M loves. We’ll see what’s fresh at the market next week.

Last but not least, we’ll have desserts in front of the tube, catching up on movies and some shows. These will be desserts that are easy, almost effortless, but with a high comfort quotient that fits the country atmosphere where squirrels and chipmunks outnumber the human neighbors.

Apples, pears, figs and cranberries are all favorites, but I’ll add another unexpected dimension or two. Baking/roasting fruit not only softens the texture but intensifies the flavor. This super gingery blueberry pear crisp embodies that plus the crispiest topping I’ve been able to concoct. The quadruple application of ginger gives the dessert warmth, balance, and a strong flavor statement that probably goes beyond a standard comfort profile. Dried wild blueberries soaked in Canton (ginger liquor) not only add a luminescent magenta to the pale flesh of the pears but an unexpected chewy texture that accents the other textures—al dente fruit and crunchy topping.

If you make this Ginger Blueberry Pear Crisp individually or as a family-style dessert, it will revive your palette and energy from a full-on Thanksgiving feast. Even though we are not having a ten side-dish feast, M and I will plan on having this dessert, perhaps with an addition of ginger whipped cream or vanilla ice-cream to play off the warm and cold aspects. The only worry I have is that we might finish this dessert for four all on our own.

Ginger Blueberry Pear Crisp

recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated
yield 4-6 servings


2 tablespoons dried blueberry
2 tablespoons Canton (ginger liquor)
3/4 cup almonds (3 ounces)
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (2-1/2 ounces)
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar (1-3/4 ounces)
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
2 tablespoons chopped crystalized ginger
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1-2 teaspoon cornstarch, depends on the juiciness of pears
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 teaspoon  lemon juice, freshly squeezed
3 pounds ripe but firm bartlett pears (6-7 medium)


1. Combine blueberries and ginger liquor in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and microwave on medium power for a minute. Remove from microwave, set aside and cool, with cover on, for 15 minutes.

2. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 400℉.

3. Pulse almonds, flour, brown sugar, 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, ground ginger, crystallized ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in food processor until nuts are finely chopped, about 10-15 seconds. Drizzle butter over flour mixture and pulse until mixture resembles crumbly wet sand, about 5 seconds. Set aside while preparing fruit.

4. Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, cornstarch, fresh ginger, lemon juice, and pinch of salt together in large bowl. Peel pears, then halve and core. Cut each half into 1-inch chunks. Gently toss pears, blueberries and it’s soaking liquid with sugar mixture and divide among 4-6 small baking dishes or a 8-inch square baking dish.

5. Sprinkle topping evenly over fruit, breaking up any large chunks. Bake until fruit is bubbling around edges and topping is deep golden brown, 25 to 35 minutes. Cool on wire rack until warm, at least 15 minutes, and serve.
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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy November 18, 2011 at 7:21 am

Lovely. I’ve made pear crisps before, but the addition of blueberry pushes this over the top.

How can we see some of your dancing?

movita beaucoup November 18, 2011 at 7:25 am

This looks perfectly lovely. I hope you have a smashing weekend with the right balance of food and… nothing!

Jessica / Green Skies and Sugar Trips November 18, 2011 at 7:49 am

It sounds like you will have a lovely time. I am so glad that you two will finally have a few days to do nothing but enjoy the beauty and love around you. The days up here have been beautiful, and the nights chilly. Perfect for spending time with the one you love. <3

This sounds delicious. I think I might adapt it and throw in some apples that I have remaining from my picking with little miss Taylor. I was planning on doing a crisp anyway for our feast, so this will be perfect.

Or course, if you get bored (which I doubt) you can always call me ;-)

Tina@flourtrader November 18, 2011 at 8:06 am

I like the match of these two kinds of fruit in this, sounds delicious. Also, no doubt, there are some wonderful textures you have when eating this. Great job on the pics.
Sometimes the do nothing holidays are the best kind! Yes running around, planning and visiting is fun, but relaxing and reflecting on the true meaning of the holiday can get lost in the mix.
Relax, reflect and re-new yourself this Thanksgiving Ken, it will be more enjoyable than you think.

Elizabeth @Mango_Queen November 18, 2011 at 9:36 am

Oh my goodness,this looks like another superb dessert! I love how you mixed these flavors! Thanks for sharing and Happy Thanksgiving,Ken!

Barbara | Creative Culinary November 18, 2011 at 10:03 am

I love anything designed as a crisp; the soft, sweet and warm fruit topped with something crunchy is nirvana and I love your combination of flavors.
Your photos are gorgeous Ken…very impressed.

Georgie November 18, 2011 at 10:05 am

WOW! Love the flavor combination of ginger, blueberry and pears. I’m amazed at your endless talent, you’re a great cook, a fabulous baker, a talented architect, a word smith, awesome photographer and now a dancer… how does one keep up ;) Scrumptious recipe.

foodwanderings November 18, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Love the shots of the pears and I lov ethis ginger blueberry pear crisp. Since you left me a hilarious comment and tweet I am not attempting to match it today but one day inspuration will strike!! :)

Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction November 19, 2011 at 8:47 pm

This blueberry pear crisp looks perfect… I’m still kind of freaking out about Thanksgiving since we are having both sides of our family hear for dinner. I think I’m more concerned about keeping everyone entertained than i am about the cooking. Of course, I still haven’t figured out what I’m making. :)

sweetsugarbelle November 20, 2011 at 7:27 pm

This is breathtaking, Ken. I think I say that to you every time. You should thank your lucky stars you don’t live near me, I’d be carting cookies to you all the time FORCING dessert trades, LOL!

hungryrabbit November 20, 2011 at 7:34 pm

Thanks Callye, it would be an honor to trade your stunning cookies for my desserts.

Brian @ A Thought For Food November 20, 2011 at 11:08 pm

This is a magnificent recipe, Ken! I love the combo of the ginger and pears… and the blueberries will bring me back to summer. Lovely!

I don’t know where Autumn went, but I’m ready for a little shift in seasons… this 70 degree weather, 40 degree weather back and forth is driving me a little crazy (believe me, i’m loving the warm weather… but it makes those chilly days all the more unbearable).

amelia from z tasty life November 21, 2011 at 10:22 am

Ken: Great flavor combinations…this is a Fall winner! I adore crisps: a great way to use up seasonal fruit without pulling out the scale to measure ingredients.

Chez Us November 22, 2011 at 10:05 am

Ken, I feel the same way; where has the time gone. I was just laying in bed this morning thinking of all the things that I have to get done before the holidays, and that I still have not even had a chance to enjoy Fall or our new house. Should slow down and make this crisp – could use a big bowl now!

Liren November 23, 2011 at 6:39 pm

Happy Thanksgiving, Ken! I seriously don’t know when this whole autumn thing started, but I am definitely finally enjoying it and its coziness. All I need a spoon and this lovely crisp. So beautiful!

Wishing you a delicious day tomorrow.

Jen Laceda November 24, 2011 at 11:15 pm

Happy Thanksgiving! I think this is a good idea to celebrate just the two of you. No messy family get-togethers, no elaborate menu, no fuss…just romantically calm and familiar :) Have a good weekend!

Jeanne @ CookSister! November 28, 2011 at 9:40 am

Oh ginger improves any dessert, in my opinion ;) Love your description of what you are planning for the holidays, and yeah, 2 people finishing a dessert for 4: dontcha hate it when that happens?! ;o)

Maria December 2, 2011 at 2:55 pm

I’ve been following your blog for a couple weeks now upon a friend’s recommendation and have been really enjoying your posts.
The photos are truly spectacular!
Do you mind me asking what type of camera you use when you take these photos?

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