Last Tuesday, I had the night to myself. Hubby was at work. I had finished all my writing for the night. If I were to watch one of our TV shows on Hulu without Zach, I’d be in big trouble, and there wasn’t much of anything on Netflix that got me excited. It was bitterly cold outside, so I wasn’t going anywhere, but there were plenty of responsible entertainment options available to me. Re-alphabetize the records and books! Finally take down our fake Christmas tree! Toss out some old clothes to take to Goodwill! Of course, I accomplished none of those things. Instead, I took stock of what supplies we had in our kitchen. I noticed the vanilla beans leftover from Christmas, I felt bad that the Anjou pears I bought over the weekend were started to get a bit too soft, and I decided to bake something.
Baking while bored is a dangerous endeavor. Sure, you may spend an inordinate amount of time making sure whatever creation you’re making is absolutely perfect in both appearance and taste. Sure, you may further improve your baking skills by the end of the night. But know this: you will end up eating far more of what you’ve made than you have any right to consume. You will stare at it longingly as it cools, and sit impatiently, waiting for the person you want to eat it with to get home. My friends, the pear vanilla honey crisp that I made last Tuesday was all but annihilated by the time we went to bed. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Pear Vanilla Honey Crisp
4 pears, peeled and diced
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons warm honey, plus more for drizzling
About a two inch hunk of vanilla bean, minced finely or pulsed briefly in a small food processor, OR a teaspoon of good quality vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each ginger and nutmeg
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 stick butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Peel, core and dice the pears, and mix them with the white sugar first; then with the two tablespoons of warm honey and your finely minced vanilla bean or extract. It’s OK if the pears start to fall apart, and it’s also OK to add less vanilla if you want a more subtle flavor. Pour the pear, honey and vanilla mixture into a glass pie pan or baking dish. Set aside. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, spices and oatmeal, and then slowly pour in the butter, stirring slowly until it’s all crumbly. Top the pear mixture with the crumble, and then drizzle honey directly from the bottle on top, in a criss-cross pattern, until it’s very lightly coated in honey. Spray a little cooking spray on top of all that. Bake for 30 minutes, until the sides are bubbling and the crumble is golden brown. Serve with the ice cream of your choosing; vanilla of course would be nice, but I would be willing to bet a dulce du leche or other caramel flavor would be even better. Also, if you don’t have pears lying around, you could probably just use apples and it would be equally delicious. I bet you could also try Asian pears. Don’t worry: you’ll find a way to make otherwise healthy fruit be not very healthy at all.