Cooking a lot on your own and shopping for your own groceries really allows you to go for flexibility. This is especially the case when you can find cheap, new ingredients that you've never thought about using before. For me, this came in the case of Asian pears and Maneschewitz wine, both interesting but exciting new ingredients to cook with!
I've always been a fan of eating Asian pears whole, similarly to apples. However, I had never actually cooked with them, but wanted to give it a try because of the sweet but dense flesh that can hold up well to baking. My cousin and his roommate actually introduced me to Maneschewitz. It's a cheap, Kosher dessert wine with incredible flavor without being super strong or alcoholic. I decided to bring these two ingredients together in one of my favorite old-school desserts - fruit crumble.
Similar to a cobbler, fruit crumble has a thinner topping that isn't as dense or rich. It's incredibly easy to make vegan, so I went for that route, using simply nuts and some binding agents like flour and agave to bring it together. Combined with the fruity, sweet filling, it's an amazing warm dessert for the holiday season!
Recipe serves 12-16 people.
For the Crumble Topping:
1 1/2 cups walnuts, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups almonds, finely chopped
(Tip: Use a food processor or blender on the nuts; a few pulses is all you need).
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (or brown rice flour for gluten-free folks)
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground star anise
For the Filling:
2 medium Asian pears, peeled and roughly diced
3 medium tart cooking apples, peeled and roughly diced (Braeburns and Galas are the best option)
2 cups raisins
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup Maneschewitz wine
3 tablespoons lemon juice
(Tip: Add this to your apples/pears once chopped to keep from going brown)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/2 tablespoon nutmeg
1) Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
2) Combine the diced Asian pears, apples, raisins, sugar, wine, lemon juice (that you didn't use on the apples/pears initially), cinnamon, and nutmeg. Transfer to a baking/casserole dish (this recipe works on a 13x9 casserole dish).
3) Mix together the nuts, flour, cinnamon, and star anise. Work in the agave to get clusters within the topping mixture, then spread evenly over the top of your filling.
4) Bake for 35-40 minutes, then let cool slightly before serving!
This crumble has an amazing combination of textures and flavors. You get chewiness from the raisins, softness from the cooked apples and pears, and a crunch from the nuts on top. The pears and apples keep the dish from being too sweet, which is contributed by the sugar, wine, and raisins. The lemon juice also balances it out slightly, and the nuts on top bring a richness to the dish. The overall warmth of the dish makes it an ultimate comforting dessert!
I hope you enjoyed this recipe! Let me know what you think and what you would change. If you make it at home, let me know how it turns out! enjoy! =)