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.
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.
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.
Salt is really important so do not forget this. And be sure to measure it.
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.
Make these up to a couple days ahead and bake before serving. Or you could also bake ahead and reheat.
Mini Pear and Berry Crumbles with Nigella Seeds
- 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)
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