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Pear Crisp With Salted Bourbon Caramel

Photo Courtesy of Kitchen Vignettes
Photo Courtesy of Kitchen Vignettes

The only thing that rivals picking apples at this time of year is picking pears.

When October comes, whether I have apples or pears on my hands, I turn into a crisp-making machine.

There is often an ever-present pan of crisp on my counter and I’ve been known to eat it for breakfast for days on end. So my crisps are generally more on the ‘healthy breakfast’ side of things than ‘decadent dessert’. But this year, I thought I’d glam-up my usual crisp for an irresistible fall dessert.


For the Crisp:

  • 4 large ripe pears (Bartlett or an equally juicy pear variety should be used, Bosc is not ideal for this)
  • 1/2 cup flour of choice
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
  • 6 Tbsp. butter
  • Optional spice mix: 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. ground ginger, 1/4 tsp. grated nutmeg

For the Caramel:

  • 1 cup cane sugar (white sugar)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp. bourbon (regular whiskey is fine too)
  • 1/4 tsp salt


  1. To make the topping, mix the flour, oats, brown sugar, and optional spices in a large bowl. With a pastry cutter, incorporate the cold butter until the mixture is crumbly and the butter no larger than the size of small peas. Place in the fridge to chill while you make your caramel.  
  2. To make the caramel, place the cane sugar and water in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan on medium-low heat, without stirring. Bring to a gentle boil, swirling the pan occasionally to make sure the caramel is not burning. Simmer for about 12 minutes, or until a thick deep golden caramel is obtained. (If you leave your caramel on the burner for too long, your sugar may start to crystallise in which case, simply add a tablespoonful of water and bring to a boil until uniform again.) Remove from heat and slowly pour in the cream, stirring. Next add the butter, bourbon, and salt, stirring between each addition. Turn the heat to low and return the caramel sauce to the burner for another minute or two. Remove from heat and allow to cool a bit before using. (This recipe yields about 1 cup of caramel sauce. Once cooled, the sauce can be bottled up and stored in the fridge for up to a week).  
  3. Cut the pears in half. Remove the stems and ends. Slice off a small piece on the outside of each pear half to ensure the pears sit flat and evenly on the pan, cut-side facing up. Scoop out the hearts & seeds, creating a hollowed out cavity in which to pour the caramel. Score the pear halves by slicing a criss-cross pattern into the tops to enable the caramel to soak into their flesh a bit better. Pour about 1 tablespoonful of caramel, or as much as will fill the hollowed center of each pear half. Top each with about 2 tablespoonfuls of crisp, packing it lightly to cover the pear with a little dome. Place the pear halves on a buttered baking tray and bake in a 375F oven for about 30 minutes or until the pears are tender and the topping is golden and crispy. (A quick 1-minute broil before removing from the oven will help create a deep golden crispy topping).  
  4. Allow the pear crisps to cool slightly and serve them with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream topped with the remaining caramel sauce.

Yield: Serves 8 (or 4 if you wish to serve 2 pear halves per person)  

Find more photos of this recipe on the Kitchen Vignettes blog.

Aube Giroux is a food writer and filmmaker who shares her love of cooking on her farm-to-table blog, Kitchen Vignettes. Her work has been shown on television and at international film festivals.