Sometimes instead of the typical ornate Christmas sweet, I need a crowd-pleasing dessert. That’s when I bake this homey, satisfying, and delicious crisp. If you wish, serve it with vanilla ice cream or sweetened whipped cream.
For best results, think ahead and buy the pears 3 or 4 days before you want to bake the crisp. Markets rarely carry ripe pears because they must be picked and transported while hard. Ripen them in a closed brown paper bag at room temperature. Do not try to ripen them in the refrigerator. Not only will they never ripen, but the cores will be brown and soft.
Yield: Makes 8 to 12 servings
8 ripe medium Anjou or Bartlett pears, peeled, cored, and cut into ½-inch wedges
One 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, chilled
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup packed light brown sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, chilled
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts
1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Lightly butter a 13 × 9-inch glass baking dish.
2. To make the filling, in the prepared dish, toss together the pears, cranberries, granulated sugar, flour, and butter.
3. To make the topping, in a medium bowl, using your fingertips, work the flour, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon until combined and crumbly. Work in the walnuts. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the filling. Place on a baking sheet.
4. Bake until the juices are bubbling and the pears are tender, about 45 minutes. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature. (The crisp can be baked up to 8 hours ahead, cooled, covered, and stored at room temperature.)
Make Ahead: The crisp can be baked up to 8 hours ahead.