Our neighbor across the street has two pear trees growing in front of her house. Last week, when Romeo the pug and I were returning home from a walk, she was up on a ladder picking the juicy ripe fruit. I asked if she could use any help and she said her only issue is that there are some of the pears are out of her reach. I graciously offered up my taller-than-neighbor husband to help with this issue. JR went up on the ladder. We were sent home with all of the pears that he picked.
When additional pears arrived in the CSA box, I decided I needed to get serious about doing something with our growing pile of them. The current issue of Gourmet had what I thought was a beautiful pear on its cover, so I figured that would be a good place to start (upon reading more closely, I learned that the picture was actually of a quince...which now makes me want to seek quince out because I don't think I've eaten one before, and it does look beautiful!). I did locate a pear recipe in the mag, but it was for pear pie and I didn't feel like making pie crust (I have a history of mine never turning out quite right).
Still, the pear butterscotch pie recipe that I read about worked as good inspiration. What's easier than pie? Crumble. What's a good replacement for butterscotch that I have on hand? Condensed sweetened milk caramel. From there, I started playing with ideas and ingredients. Here's what resulted:
Caramel Pear Crumble
4 medium pears, peeled and thinly sliced
1 1/2 c. oat or whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c. quick cooking rolled oats
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. walnuts, chopped
Combine flour, oats, and sugar in a medium bowl. Stir in butter to create a crumbly mixture. Set aside 1 cup. Press the remaining mixture into an ungreased baking dish (I used the small oval Le Crueset; a pie dish or 8" square pan would also work).
Arrange pears over the crust. Spoon caramel over pears. Sprinkle with reserved crumble mix and walnuts.
Bake in a 350 degree oven 30 minutes, or until top is golden brown.
We enjoyed ours warm and topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It was tasty, but very sweet - if I were to make it again I think I would try either using less or omitting completely the brown sugar in the crust. Even sugary sweet, however, I thought it was pretty tasty!