Back on the east coast, where I’m from, there are apples and pumpkins and piles of crispy leaves right now. In the desert, though, it still feels like blackberries to me.
Normally I’d be baking a gooey apple crisp and enjoying it for breakfast with tea for and dessert with ice cream. I try to make mine healthier, with less sweetener, because I’ve found that it takes less and less added sugar to give me a stomachache these days. So no matter what kind of fruit I’m using, I nearly always sweeten my crisp with some maple syrup and coconut sugar, and I don’t use much. This blackberry pear crisp emulates what I’m feeling right now—like I’m stuck in between summer and fall. The maple syrup and coconut sugar create a warming sweetness that is perfectly complemented by vanilla bean powder (or extract, if that’s what you’ve got).
I wanted to eat this bad boy for breakfast, so I did as much of the prep work as possible the night before: I chopped the pears and put them in a container in the fridge, and mixed up the crumble topping completely, also storing that in the fridge. In the morning, all I needed to do was dump the pears and blackberries in a big bowl, toss them with the other filling ingredients, put them in my skillet, and press the topping down. I stuck it in the oven, went for a run, took a quick shower, and then it was ready for me.
I think the sweetness of the pears blends really well with blackberries, which I think of as a more tart and juicy berry than sweeter fruits like blueberries. And I love the purple and pale green, which of course just turns into a juicy magenta once the crisp is baked. This crisp showcases the natural flavors of its ingredients with a simple sweetness that doesn’t overwhelm them. You won’t find gobs of added sugar here, so you can enjoy this treat for breakfast as well as dessert. No sugar-induced stomachaches! It’s also gluten-free and can be made vegan, so you can share with friends of all dietary/lifestyle persuasions.
Gluten-free and vegan juicy blackberry and pear crisp with hints of cinnamon and vanilla, great for breakfast or dessert.
- 1 cup oats, certified gluten free if needed
- 1/2 cup slivered almonds
- 1/2 cup blanched almond flour
- 1/4 cup butter or vegan butter, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon buckwheat flour or whole wheat flour
- 1 tablespoon almond milk or water
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 pears, chopped
- 2 cups blackberries, frozen or fresh
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot starch or corn starch
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon ground vanilla powder or liquid vanilla extract
Preheat oven for 350F (175C).
Prepare the crisp topping but mixing together the dry topping ingredients and then using your fingers to crumble the butter or vegan butter into the topping. Once it's combined and crumbly, stir in the 2 tablespoons of maple syrup.
Dump the fruit into a medium/large bowl and sprinkle the vanilla powder or extract over it. Drizzle the 2 teaspoons of maple syrup over it. Toss to combine.
Sprinkle the arrowroot or corn starch over the fruit and toss again until it's mostly evenly coated.
Pour the fruit into a greased 10-inch cast iron skillet or greased glass baking dish. Pour the crumble over it as evenly as possible and press it down with your fingers.
Bake for 60 minutes in the center of your oven (not too close to the top, or the topping will brown before your filling is gooey and delicious).