Apples are a popular choice for crisps and cobblers, but pears are also an excellent fruit for making this type of dessert. Pears tend to be juicier and more tender than apples, especially once they’ve been baked. That means that when they’re put into a fruit dessert like a crisp, they bake up very quickly and produce a fruit filling that has a lot of moisture to contrast with a streusel topping.
These Individual Pear Crisps with Oatmeal Streusel are easy to make and even easier to eat. The filling is made with fresh pears, a little bit of sugar and just a touch of flour to help thicken all of the pear juices. The topping is made with flour, oatmeal and brown sugar. I prefer to use quick cooking oatmeal, which is made of regular rolled oats that have been coarsely chopped because I think that it gives the best texture. You will still get good results with regular rolled oats if that’s what you have in your pantry. The streusel topping turns golden brown in the oven and has a nice crunch to it. It is buttery, with just the right amount of sweetness, and has a lot of flavor in spite of its short ingredient list, and is an amazing flavor match for the tender, juicy pears.
As with most cobblers, the amount of fruit that you use is not critical and you can use a bit more or a bit less than I’ve suggested in the recipe (which is why I simply suggested the number of pears that you might want to use, rather than the weight). Sometimes I’ll stretch the streusel topping by using more pears and turning six servings into eight. Other times, I’ll just make four and save the remaining streusel in a baggie in the fridge for a few days for another batch.
These crisps are the best when they’re still slightly warm from the oven and served with vanilla ice cream. Leftovers also make a very good breakfast dish if they’re warmed in the microwave (they should be stored in the fridge, covered) and topped with a bit of milk or cream before serving.
Individual Pear Crisps with Oatmeal Streusel
6 small or 4 large pears (approx 2 lbs)
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp all purpose flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup butter, chilled and cut into 6-8 pieces
Preheat oven to 400F.
Slice pears in half, remove stems and seeds and cut into 3/4 inch pieces. Place pears in a medium bowl with 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp all purpose flour. Toss to coat.
Divide pear mixture into six 8-oz ramekins.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, oatmeal, brown sugar and salt. Add all of the pieces of butter and rub into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture is very sandy and coarse. No pieces of butter larger than a small pea should remain. This can also be done in a food processor. Take small handfuls of the mixture in the palm of your hand and squeeze gently to create some clumps.
Divide streusel mixture evenly on top of the pears.
Place all ramekins on a baking sheet.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until streusel is golden and pears are tender.
Allow to cool slightly before serving.