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A simple dessert for entertaining -Mini Pear and Berry Crumbles with
optional Nigella seeds, that can be made in advance in mini porcelain cups.
A simple dessert for entertaining -Mini Pear and Berry Crumbles with optional Nigella seed, that can be made in advance in mini porcelain cups.
This is a really easy and satisfying dessert to make in the colder months that can be made ahead if you are having guests over or want to bring something to a holiday party.  These inexpensive little oven proof porcelain cups can be found at World Market and have a multitude of uses. I use them often in catering events, a tiny vessel for both sweet and savory dishes.
I have been making crisps and cobblers for a long time now…and it goes to show, now matter how good you think you are at something there is always room for improvement.
A dear friend of mine introduced me to a delightful new ingredient. Nigella Seeds.

When added to the crumbly topping they add such an exotic twist…pungent and slightly bitter, but in a good way. They come from a beautiful flower with pale blue and white petals.  Nigella seeds are often used in many different eastern cultures….mostly indian cooking (on naan) and even in Egyptian cooking. They have many different names.  Kalonji (Hindi), Kezah (Hebrew), Habbat-el-barakah (literally seeds of blessing Arabic) or Siyah Daneh (Persian).

Start with some really good pears… these are bosc, but you could use bartlett or even apples. Whatever you use make sure they are ripe, but not mushy.

Cut them into small 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick pieces. If you cut them too thinly they will cook too quickly and loose much of their texture, so cut them no smaller than 1/2 in thick.

Then pick a type of berry.  Normally I would use a blackberry, cranberry or a blueberry, but the raspberries actually looked the best in the grocery store, so I bought these. I also really like the tartness.

Mix chopped pears and lemon juice  ( or you could use red wine) to stop the browning of the fruit.

Add Sugar, berries and flour.

At this point please taste your mixture. It should have a balanced sweet and tart flavor. You can adjust sugar and lemon juice. Once it is just right, you can add some flavorings…..zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice,  cardamon, white pepper, ginger, ground cloves (go lightly on this) or anything else you can think of.  Be creative. Be simple and use only 1 or two things.

Remember that flavors  become more concentrated as they cook, because they loose moisture in the baking process, making the the flavor more intense.  So use a light hand.

Line up your lightly greased ramekins on a sheet pan and fill.

If you don’t mind some of the juices spilling over the sides, fill them up a 1/2 inch to the top. If you want them neat and tidy, leave more room and fill them to 1 inch from the top. I like them spilling over.

Now its time for the topping. Mix flour, oats, sugar and salt in a bowl.

Salt is really important so do not forget this. And be sure to measure it.

Then comes the fun part. Add seeds to your liking.

I have a mix of my new favorites. Nigella seeds, sesame seeds and poppy seeds. You could also use fennel or anise or anything else that you can think of.

Then add soft butter (or coconut oil works deliciously well… actually I almost prefer it). For you adventurous cooks, you could also trying a little tahini.

Work the mixture with your fingers or a wooden spoon. It is recommended that you freeze the dough for  10-15 minutes before using. I admit, I did not have the time to do this and it turned out just fine. Be careful though because I believe the chilled topping helps prevent it from getting too brown in the oven.

Spoon the topping over the top of your fruit mixture…put about a 1/2 inch layer on the top and lightly press down…sealing the fruit.  Bake for 45-50 mins till warm and bubbly, and topping is golden.  Let cool for 10 min before serving.

A simple dessert for entertaining -Mini Pear and Berry Crumbles with optional Nigella seed, that can be made in advance in mini porcelain cups.
Serve warm with a dollop of whip cream or vanilla ice-cream.

Make these up to a couple days ahead and bake before serving.  Or you could also bake ahead and reheat.

A simple dessert for entertaining -Mini Pear and Berry Crumbles with optional Nigella seed, that can be made in advance in mini porcelain cups. |
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Pear and Berry Crumbles with Nigela Seeds

Mini Pear and Berry Crumbles with Nigella Seeds

  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 45
  • Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: Northwest


Mini Pear and Berry Crumbles with Nigella Seeds


Units Scale

Fruit filling:

  • 6 ripe pears diced into 1/2 inch cubes 2 cups berries ( raspberries, blackberries, marion berries, blueberries) 1 T lemon juice 2 T flour 3 T sugar 1/4 teaspoon cardamon ( or pick another favorite spice instead)


  • 1 cup flour 2/3 cup oats 2/3 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup soft butter or coconut oil 3 tablespoons seeds( for example 1 T nigella, 1 T sesame, 1 T poppy)


Preheat oven to 400F

In a large bowl gently mix the pears and lemon juice, then add the rest of the filling ingredients  and taste. Add sugar if necessary. Some berries are more tart and require a little more sugar. For a nice twist you could substitute a red wine for the lemon juice. You could also add a little bit of zest (orange or lemon)

To make the topping,  mix topping ingredients together tin a medium bowl using a wooden spoon or your fingers.

Fill baking dishes with pear and berry filling leaving room  …about 3/4 inch at top for the topping.
spread a generous layer of the chilled topping about 1/2 inch thick. Lightly pat down sealing the top.

Bake at 400 for about 40-45 mins. Crust should be golden.. and filling bubbly. Let sit for 15 mins before serving. Serve with a dollop of whip cream or ice cream.

This should make 12 small portions


  • Serving Size:
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  • Sugar:
  • Sodium:
  • Fat:
  • Saturated Fat:
  • Trans Fat:
  • Carbohydrates:
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  1. This was delicious! I couldn’t find the small baking dishes, but regular ramekins worked just fine. I used cranberries and chopped them briefly in a little food processor to pair with the pears. A pastry blender worked really well to make the toping – better than a wooden spoon. I had chia seeds on hand and sprinkled them on the top before baking to keep them crunchy. This was a great addition to both brunch and and as a dinner dessert on Thanksgiving! Thank you, Sylvia!!

    1. Great to hear Jill! It’s an older one- glad it still works! 😉 Hope you had a happy thanksgiving Jill!

  2. Your whole website is absolutely awesome and a step above so many I have visited. Thanku so much! I’m very grateful for all of you delishous vegan options.

  3. Love your photography. Love your porcelain cups. Love the idea of using nigella seeds in a dessert crumble. What a quirky way to prep up a classic!

  4. These adorable little crumbles look so delicious! I’ve never heard of nigella seeds before, but I’m really intrigued – I’ll have to try and find some.


Hi, I'm Sylvia!

Chef and author of the whole-foods recipe blog, Feasting at Home, Sylvia Fountaine is a former restaurant owner and caterer turned full-time food blogger. She currently lives in the Pacific Northwest and shares seasonal, healthy recipes along with tips and tricks from her home kitchen.

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