Friday, November 18, 2011

Cranberry Pear Crisp

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Fresh cranberries deserve to be used in fun, delicious ways... so go beyond the usual cranberry sauce this year. How? Use them in a dessert like this Cranberry Pear Crisp! This is the time of year where you'll  begin to notice fresh cranberries on sale. I recently made this crisp recipe for a Thanksgiving Potluck I hosted and I enjoyed it so much that I'll be making it again for the upcoming holidays. Fresh sweet pears and slightly tart wild cranberries are tossed with lemon juice and zest before being blanketed with a buttery crumble topping. The crisp is baked to a bubbly golden brown and is amazing with a creamy scoop of vanilla ice cream... Trust me. This is way better than using those fresh cranberries for a sauce!

So I mentioned how fresh cranberries are all over the place these days. I have to confess that the fresh cranberries I used are not ones I picked up from the grocery store this past week, last week, or even this past month. No... instead, the fresh cranberries I used in this recipe were ones I hand picked in the wild groves in Alaska back in early September. Did you know that wild Alaskan cranberries even existed?! It was certainly something new I learned and I've been anticipating the right moment to use them.

When I brought back my foraged wild cranberries to Chicago, I immediately froze the berries. Since then, I thought about how to use these very special cranberries and I came up with a few recipes with this being one of them. {Stay tuned for another wild cranberry recipe in the coming weeks!} Making this crisp was super easy to do... and to adapt this as a gluten free recipe, simply use gluten free oats and a gluten free all purpose flour mix that already contains xanthan gum. Of course, if you don't have any wild Alaskan cranberries sitting around, you can use fresh or frozen cranberries in this recipe.

Here are a few pictures from my Cordova, Alaska trip from this past September. The wild cranberries we foraged were sprawled all over a clearing - not a bog - and I managed to fill up a full quart bag. That means I have lots of wild cranberries to play with... and play I will! Joining me on this memorable, delicious {Copper River Salmon} trip were Amy of Cooking with Amy, Melissa Trainer and Shauna of Gluten Free Girl & the Chef. Please check out their links, as they are quite a talented group of writers and foodies who have a special place in my heart.
Cranberry Pear Crisp
recipe adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

Fruit base:
4 large pears - peeled, cored, and chopped

1 1/4 cups cranberries, fresh or frozen
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Crisp topping:
1 1/4 cup oats {gluten free}
1/4 cup all-purpose flour {gluten free with xanthan gum mixed in}
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 8 baking dish and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the pears, cranberries, sugar, zest, and lemon juice. Transfer the mixture to the buttered baking dish; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine oats, flour, spices, and brown sugar.  Mix in the butter with a pastry cutter or fork until crumbly. Top the pear and cranberries with the topping mixture.
Bake the crisp in the preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until pears are tender and the cranberries have bursted and bubbled up the sides. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.

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