Cardamom, which is part of the ginger family, was taken to Scandinavia from Constantinople more than 1,000 years ago. Scandinavians love its unique flavor and it has become a favorite spice for baking, more popular than cinnamon. A mixture of several kinds of pears makes the flavor of the crisp more interesting (though Bartletts may fall apart when cooked). Pick pears that are soft to the touch without being overripe.
|1||cup rolled oats|
|½||cup light brown sugar|
|½||teaspoon ground nutmeg|
|Grated rind of 1 lemon|
|Pinch of salt|
|6||tablespoons unsalted butter, melted|
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1. In a food processor combine the oats, walnuts, and cornstarch. Pulse half a dozen times until the nuts and oats are coarsely chopped. Transfer to a bowl.
2. Add the brown sugar, nutmeg, lemon rind, and salt. Stir well. Drizzle the butter over the mixture and stir again.
|Butter (for the dish)|
|8||large pears (Anjou, Bartlett, and Bosc), peeled, cored, and cut into 1-inch chunks|
|Juice of 1 lemon|
|½||cup granulated sugar|
|¼||cup candied ginger, finely chopped|
|1||teaspoon ground cardamom|
|6||grinds fresh black pepper (optional)|
1. Set the oven at 375 degrees. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.
2. In a bowl, combine the pears, lemon juice, granulated sugar, ginger, cornstarch, cardamom, salt, and pepper. Toss well and transfer to the baking dish.
3. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the pear mixture, leaving some of the pears visible in spots for the juices to bubble up.
4. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until the topping is brown and the juices are bubbling at the edges, and the pears are tender when tested with a skewer. Serve warm with whipped cream.