Pear/hazelnut/chocolate crisp and ginger ice cream

Hazelnut chocolate pear crisp and ginger ice cream

I had a hard time taking this picture, because of the fading light. In the summertime I could take pictures of my food outside, in perfect light, just before we ate it. Lately it’s been harder and harder. It’s often dark by the time we eat our meal, and I have to save some to photograph the next day, which reminds me of last winter (and makes me feel a little crazy! Who photographs their food? Who does? Well, everyone lately, it seems.) For some reason this simple fact – that I can’t take a photograph before dinner – makes me feel almost anxious. It drives home the fact that days are getting shorter and that winter is coming, in an oddly concrete way. I love the long days of summer – so generous and expansive. There’s time for anything that you might want to do. Evenings this time of year always make me feel melancholy. The darkness is closing in on you, and you can feel time passing. In the summer we have gloaming, a warm glowing beautiful hour, when all the golden heat of the day collects on the edges of the world and holds the bright clouds. In the winter we have dusk, full of chilly shadows and dark spaces. It all goes so fast – it all slips right by you, as you’re caught up in the worries of the day.

You know what makes autumn evenings pleasurable? Cooking! Being in a warm, cozy kitchen, no matter how dark and cold it is outside, making something warm and comforting is what it’s all about this time of year! This dessert is one of the best I have ever made. Ever!! David suggested the ginger ice cream, and he suggested making something with apples to go with it. So I made this crisp. It has apples and pears, it has a sprinkling of bittersweet chocolate, and it has a crispy hazelnut brown sugar crust. I can’t stop eating it! And the ginger ice cream has a little salty bite to it, and a little gingery bite to it, and it’s so smooth and creamy. The contrast in warm crisp and cold ice cream is just like this time of year, when seasons and temperatures melt into each other.

Here’s Evening Time and Autumn Sounds from Jackie Mittoo. I’ve probably played them both beofre, but they’re just so perfect!

2 large pears and one large apple, peeled, cored, and diced in 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup hazelnuts, lightly toasted
1 cup brown sugar
4 T cold butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t nutmeg
1/4 t salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 375

Lightly butter a baking dish. I used a deep oval dish. Spread the fruit in a thick layer on the bottom of the dish. you should have about 3 cups of diced fruit, but a little more or less is fine. Sprinkle the chocolate chips over the fruit.

In a food processor, combine the hazelnuts, sugar, spices, flour, butter and salt. Process till coarse and crumbly. Pour this over the fruit.

Bake for about half an hour, till the top is crisp and starting to brown, and the fruit is bubbling up around the edges.

Serve with ginger ice cream, or the ice cream of your choice. Or whipped cream, or creme fraiche. Whatever you like!


2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 t ginger
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup crystallized ginger, finely chopped

Warm the milk in a medium-sized saucepan over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, ginger, and brown sugar, till it’s frothy. When the milk has little bubbles all around the edge, slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking madly the whole time. Return everything to very low heat, and stir constantly for about ten minutes, till the surface is covered with tiny white bubbles, and the mixture coats the back of the spoon. Do not let it boil, or the eggs will cook and curdle! Set aside to cool completely in the refrigerator. Overnight is best.

When you’re ready to eat the icecream, stir in the heavy cream, and freeze according to your ice cream maker’s instructions. When it’s semi-solid, add the crystalized ginger.

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