By this point in the month of December, you may have done all of the creaming of butter and sugar and all of the rolling and cutting and sprinkling and decorating you can handle. You may be ready for an easy, no fuss dessert, something you can whip together at a moment’s notice but count on to be delicious, fragrant, and crowd-pleasing. This festive apple, pear, and cranberry crisp is your answer. And if you’ve been doing very little cooking this month because you’re too busy or you’re not in the right spirits, then this may also be the holiday dessert for you: a simple and relatively healthy alternative to some of the more ambitious baking projects that one might undertake at this time of year!
This wasn’t originally a Christmas dessert for me. Instead, I made it over Thanksgiving, as a contribution to the holiday meal at Steven’s family home. I loved the results–it’s similar to, but just a little sweeter and more substantial than my end of summer plum and blackberry crisp–and it was a hit with everyone at the gathering, which was a happy surprise.
I really love the combination of pear and apple: the former is more sweet, the latter a little tart, especially if you use Granny Smith apples. Cranberries add an extra bite of tartness, as well as some festive color, to the crisp.
The crisp serves a lot of folks: at least 8, and up to 10. It’s perfect for a family gathering or to bring to a party. If you have leftovers, be aware that the topping will lose a little of its crispiness, but the dessert will still taste great. Leftovers are best when they’re heated up gently, and even better with a scoop of vegan vanilla ice cream!
Vegan, Gluten Free Apple, Pear, and Cranberry Crisp
For the Crisp:
- 1 1/2 pounds peeled and cubed apples
- 1 1/2 pounds peeled and cubed pears
- 1 cup fresh cranberries
- 2 tablespoons orange zest
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/4 cup organic sugar of choice cane sugar, brown sugar, sucanat, demerara sugar, and coconut sugar are all great options
- 1/4 cup oat flour substitute a GF all purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Dash cloves
For the topping:
- 1 1/3 cups oat flour substitute a GF all purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour
- 1 cup rolled oats
- 3/4 cup organic brown sugar cane sugar, or coconut sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 stick 8 tablespoons cold Earth Balance, cut into small pieces, or 1/2 cup solid coconut oil (just keep it at a temperature lower than room temperature to keep it solid)
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly oil a 9 x 13 rectangular baking dish or a 2 1/4 quart oval baking gratin. To prepare the filling, toss all filling ingredients together in a large mixing bowl. Transfer them to the baking dish.
- Place the oat flour, oats, sugars, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk them together. Add the Earth Balance or coconut oil and use your fingers to work it into the dry ingredients, crumbling it until the Earth Balance or oil is in very small pieces and the consistency of the mixture is even. Add two tablespoons of ice water. Keep crumbling the mixture together until large crumbs are forming. Pour this mixture over the crisp filling in the baking dish.
- Transfer the baking dish to your oven. Bake for 25-40 minutes (this will vary based on your oven, so start checking at 25 minutes), or until the filling is bubbly and the topping is browning slightly. Serve.
Steven noted that the crisp is a little less sweet than other crisps he’s tried, and suggested that I note this in the post. He’s right, and if you’d like the crisp a bit sweeter, add a few more tablespoons of sugar to the filling.
I love the addition of orange zest and juice — it channels that cranberry/orange flavor combination that is so tried-and-true. And I love the fact that this dessert is so packed with fruit that I’d consider eating it for breakfast.
Perhaps you’ll add this to your holiday menu this season (or use it at a winter gathering soon). It’s a perfect, low-stress way to end any meal on a sweet note. If you try it, let me know what you think!
And now, I’m happy to say that finals are behind me. I’m off to catch up on the rest of life today, and unwind a little after a long semester. I look forward to seeing you soon for weekend reading.