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Rustic desserts that pair soft, tart fruit with buttery-crisp toppings are one of most favourite things to bake: they’re easy to throw together, completely foolproof, and always warm and comforting. Recipes abound but this one, is a stand-out thanks to the combination of sweet D’Anjou pears and tart dried cherries, which are plumped up in an orange-scented caramel syrup before baking.
Begin by making the walnut streusel topping.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt.
Add the cold butter.
Rub the butter in with your fingertips until mixture begins to clump together.
It should look like this.
Stir in the walnuts, then cover and refrigerate until ready to cook.
Combine the sugar, butter, orange juice, orange zest, vanilla and salt in a medium pan.
Stir over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil.
Add the cherries.
Then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the cherries begin to soften and the liquid is caramel colored and thickened, 2-3 minutes.
Remove from the heat, then add the pears (it’s important to do this right away, as the pears cool the mixture and prevent it from over-caramelizing); stir until pears are evenly coated with caramel sauce.
Transfer the fruit mixture to a small baking dish.
Sprinkle the walnut streusel mixture evenly over top.
Then bake for 45-50 minutes, until the pears are tender and the top is crisp and golden. Serve warm or room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!