Adapted from Bon Appétit, January 1996 on Epicurious.com
For the topping:
1 1/4 cup old-fashioned oats *
1 cup light brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into 1/2-inch slices
3/4 cup sliced almonds
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, cut into small chunks
For the filling:
4# Anjou pears, peeled, cored and cut into 1/3-inch slices
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 1/3 cups dried tart cherries (Make sure they’re tart, or the whole crisp will be too sweet.)
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tbl flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
Vanilla ice cream
For the topping, combine the oats, brown sugar, flour, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed to just combine the ingredients. Add the butter and mix on medium speed until the mixture begins to resemble coarse wet crumbs. (At this point, the mixture should hold together loosely if you squeeze it in your hand, but should still easily crumble apart. If you mix it for too long, the ingredients will become too thoroughly incorporated, and the mixture will turn dense like cookie dough, so don’t get carried away.) Add the almonds and the chocolate and mix by hand to incorporate. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until needed. This topping can be stored for 2 days.
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a 9x13 inch glass baking dish. In a large bowl, mix to combine the sliced pears and the lemon juice. Add the dried cherries, sugar, flour and vanilla extract, and mix to combine thoroughly. Transfer the pear filling to the prepared dish. Sprinkle the topping over the filling. There’s a trick to doing this: Grab a handful of the topping and gently squeeze to make it somewhat stick together, then crumble this mass into coarse pieces, spreading the crumbs evenly over the filling.
Bake until the pears are tender and the crisp topping is golden brown and crisp, about 45 minutes. Cool about 20 minutes, then serve topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
* By ‘old fashioned oats’ I mean oats that aren’t instant oats. I also don’t mean stone-cut oats. Definitely not those. Old fashion oats will look a lot like the flat, flaky instant oats, but are a little more substantial. I like the brand Bob’s Red Mill, which is pretty easy to find in most good grocery stores. But I don’t think the regular old Quaker Oats brand could be too bad either.
SERVED AT THIS DINNER PARTY