We haven’t written much about desserts or sweet treats on Cheap Eats, so I thought we’d use pears as our ingredient of the week.
Pears, I hear you cry, are a high-maintenance fruit: either rock hard and dry, or else a pile of mush. The trick is to get them at the right time, when you can feel some softness but before the fruit starts to bruise. Then, they are luscious and juicy. If you’re including them in a cake or a smoothie, however, it doesn’t really matter if they’re slightly over-ripe – just as long as they haven’t gone dry. William Pears are the best variety of all, and they’re particularly good at the moment.
I’m kicking off with one of my favourite desserts – a Pear, Apple, and Chocolate Crumble. This is a variation of my mum’s tried and tested scrumptious recipe: Mum originally used only apples but in recent years I’ve added pears and chocolate. Berries would be a nice additon too. Mum, the queen of pastry, is famous for her apple desserts. Along with her uniquely gorgeous apple tart, this is one of the simplest and cheapest desserts around.
When I was a kid in the 1980’s, I was oblivious to my parent’s poverty. They couldn’t afford a car and so Dad used to take the bus into Moore St. in Dublin to pick up boxes of fruit and vegetables. He’d come home and Mum would take out her bottomless supply of flour and sugar from the store cupboard. Then she’d bake the most simple, gorgeous desserts using only the bare minimum of ingredients, and we all felt rich, warm, and loved. Her crumble recipe was foolproof and never went wrong.
I’ve added 70% dark chocolate to the crumble for a bit of extra decadence but it’s not essential. You’ll find some other
Pear, Apple, and Chocolate Crumble
- 8oz (225g) plain flour
- 3oz (75g) Stork margarine
- 3-4oz (75-110g) sugar
- 3 large cooking apples, peeled and sliced into even cubes
- 3-4 ripe pears, peeled and sliced into even cubes
- 100g dark chocolate (optional)
Sieve the flour, mix with the sugar, and combine with the Stork margarine until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Mum swears it works better by using your fingertips but a mixer would do the trick.
Place a layer of crumble in a greased ovenproof dish. Follow this with a layer of apples and pears, sprinkling over 2-3 dessertspoons of water to release the fruit’s natural juices. Then add a layer of crumble, another layer of fruit with 2-3 dessertspoons of water, and finish with a layer of crumble. Sprinkle over some dark chocolate pieces; my current favourite is Divine Fairtrade Dark Chocolate at just over €2 in Dunnes, but some of our readers love Lidl’s chocolate.
Bake in the oven for 30-40 mins at 160 ° in a fan assisted oven/ 180° in conventional oven/ 350 °F/ Gas Mark 4.