Recipe: PEAR-APPLE CRISP WITH BROWN SUGAR-BACON TOPPING
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 3 tablespoons apple or pear brandy
- 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (optional)
- 4 medium apples, such as Braeburn, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3 small pears, such as Comice, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 8 to 12 thick bacon slices (8 to 12 ounces uncooked), cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 3/4 cup (about 3 ounces) toasted hazelnuts or pecans
- Heavy (whipping) cream or softened French vanilla ice cream for serving
Crisps are such easy, flavorful desserts, and this sophisticated version is no exception. With its apple brandy-plumped raisins and brown sugar-bacon topping, it’s simply out of this world. When you are ready to serve, pass a pitcher of heavy cream or top each portion with a scoop of softened French vanilla ice cream.
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter an 8-by-8-by-2-inch baking pan. To make the filling: In a small bowl, combine the raisins, brandy, and Grand Marnier, if using. Let stand for 30 minutes, or microwave for 30 seconds and let stand for 15 minutes.
In a medium saucepan, combine the apples, cinnamon, and sugar over medium heat. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the apples are tender, about 5 minutes.
Remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. Add the pears and raisins with their soaking liquid and stir gently. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.
To make the topping: In a medium heavy skillet, cook the bacon pieces over low to medium-low heat, turning as needed to achieve uniform crispness. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel to drain. Pour off the bacon drippings, but don’t wipe or clean the skillet. Return the bacon to the pan. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of the brown sugar over the bacon and cook over medium-low heat until the sugar is no longer granular and has coated the bacon pieces, about 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper towel. Chop the bacon into bits.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, granulated sugar, and the remaining 4 tablespoons brown sugar. Add the butter and mix together with a fork until crumbly. Stir in the hazelnuts and half of the bacon bits. Sprinkle the topping over the apple mixture. Sprinkle the remaining bacon bits over the topping.
Bake until the top is lightly browned, about 35 minutes. Let cool slightly on a wire rack before serving. Serve warm, and pass a pitcher of cream or serve with softened French vanilla ice cream.
Note: To toast hazelnuts, preheat the oven to 350F. Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until the skins crack and the nuts brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Wrap the nuts in a kitchen towel and let “steam” for 5 minutes. Rub the towel briskly between your hands, which will cause most of the skins to flake off.
To toast pecans, preheat the oven to 350F. Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet and bake, stirring occasionally, until brown, 10 to 15 minutes.