Baked Pear and Apple Crunch

Pears. Apples. Walnuts. Some people might think this is a health food. We know better: we know that no health food tastes this good. No health food sends shivers through us with every bite. No health food makes us say, “Who needs chocolate?”

Ok, maybe I got carried away with that last one. Still, this is a dessert worth drooling over. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla bring out the natural sweet and warm flavors of the fruit, and the walnuts add crunch and an extra layer of depth to the flavors.

The real star of the show is the fruit, of course. I used Bosc Pears and Empire Apples, both of which hold up well to baking. But you could use other varieties: for apples, Cortland immediately comes to mind, though Golden Delicious or Granny Smith would work, too. And good baking pears–besides Bosc–include Anjou or Concorde.

My secret weapon with baked goods is a tiny bit of jasmine essence, which I got at a specialty spice shop.  If you can find it, it adds extra oomph. The floral notes of the jasmine work especially well with cinnamon and nutmeg. But a little goes a long way: I use an eyedropper to measure it, because it can be overpowering if you add too much. If you don’t have jasmine or can’t find it, it can easily be left out.

The recipe fills up two individual gratin dishes, but since it’s a dessert, that’s really enough for 4 people (maybe even 6). And if you wanted to put it into smaller containers, it would bake up nicely in ramekins, too.

Just don’t tell your friends and family that it’s healthy–not that they’d believe you, anyway.