Pears can be overlooked in favour of apples, but they’re a great autumn and winter fruit. Some varieties, like the one used here, are in season now but will last in cold storage into January, and others are meant to be stored for months before being eaten in the winter.
That means it’s a great fruit to choose from now right until spring if you live in the Northern Hemisphere, either to eat raw or baked into cozy desserts like this pear crisp! Depending on the type you choose you may have to cook it, so keep that in mind.
The combination of pear and chocolate is a classic, and with cardamom, vanilla, and caramel undertones from maple syrup and coconut sugar, this is the kind of dessert to make when the leaves start falling and snow (maybe) follows. Serve it with pear cider to really get those autumnal flavours in.
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Maple syrup: use maple syrup, date syrup, apple, any kind of liquid sweetener you like. If it’s not important to keep the crisp vegan, honey is a good substitution.
- Arrowroot or tapioca starch: cornstarch can be used in place of arrowroot or tapioca.
- Cardamom: if you don’t like cardamom, use cinnamon, nutmeg, or another spice instead. Make sure you go with something that pairs well with the chocolate.
- Oat flour: if gluten isn’t an issue, just use spelt or wheat flour. It can be subbed 1:1 for the oat flour in this recipe without any issues.
- Rolled oats: quick oats can take the place of rolled oats in a pinch, but the texture won’t be as good. Don’t use steel-cut.
- Coconut sugar: brown sugar, especially light brown sugar, is a good substitution for coconut sugar, and others like maple, apple, or date sugar work as well.
- Hazelnuts: leave the hazelnuts out if needed, or sub walnuts or sunflower seeds in their place.
Step by Step
1. Prepare: wash and chop the pears, and place them into the baking dish with the syrup, arrowroot, cardamom, and vanilla. Mix to coat the fruit well, then stir in the chocolate pieces.
2. Make the topping: add the flour, oats, coconut sugar, hazelnuts, and salt to a bowl. Mix to combine, then add the coconut oil and milk. Mix until well combined.
3. Top: cover the pear mixture with the streusel, trying to get as even a layer as possible. Use your hands to crumble it on to ensure evenness.
4. Bake: bake the crisp for about half an hour, or until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling around the edges. Cool for at least ten minutes before serving.
Adding milk to a vegan crisp topping mimics the make-up of butter, which has some water content. Using pure fat (just coconut oil) makes a greasy crisp that loses its shape during baking – the oat milk improves the structure, texture, and taste.
Serve this warm, with ice cream, if you can! Pictured is a hazelnut ice cream, sweetened with date syrup (so it’s a bit darker), based off of my coconut milk ice cream. When it’s still warm, the melted chocolate swirling through is fantastic.
It’s up to you whether you want to peel the pears or not. I don’t, but some varieties have a very tough skin that can be a bit unpleasant.
The pear variety I used here is Conference, a popular table pear developed in England in the 19th century. Use a type that you like the flavour of, because you will taste it here.
How to Store
Storage: this will keep at room temperature for a day or two, and can be stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Note that the topping will soften over time, but it can be crisped up if reheated in the oven.
Freezing: transfer the fully cooled crisp to an airtight container and freeze for up to three months. Thaw in the refrigerator.
- Use your hands: the streusel topping in particular is easiest to mix using your hands, so get in there.
- Change up the add-ins: if you prefer to omit the chocolate, do that, or sub in something like dried cranberries instead. Use spices you like, and switch out the hazelnuts.
- Cover if needed: crisps can sometimes get a bit too brown on the top before the fruit is fully cooked. If you see that happening, simply place a sheet of parchment paper over the baking dish. It doesn’t need to be tight or secured, just loosely covering.
More Autumn Desserts
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Hazelnut Pear Crisp with Chocolate
- 1 kg pears, cored and chopped
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup*
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 50 grams dark chocolate, chopped
Oat Streusel Topping
- 120 grams oat flour
- 50 grams rolled oats
- 75 grams raw hazelnuts, chopped
- 80 grams coconut sugar
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
- Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F). Set a baking dish aside (about 22cm or 9 in.).
- Place the chopped pears, syrup, vanilla, arrowroot powder, and cardamom into the baking dish. Mix to coat the fruit evenly, then stir in the chocolate.1 kg pears, cored and chopped, 3 tablespoons maple syrup*, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder, 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom, 50 grams dark chocolate, chopped
- To make the streusel topping, add the flour, oats, hazelnuts, sugar, and salt to a mixing bowl. Stir to combine, then add the coconut oil and milk. Use your hands to mix until a crumbly dough forms.120 grams oat flour, 50 grams rolled oats, 75 grams raw hazelnuts, chopped, 80 grams coconut sugar, 1/4 teaspoon sea salt, 3 tablespoons coconut oil, 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
- Crumble the streusel over the pear mixture in as even a layer as possible.
- Bake the crisp for 30-35 minutes, or until the topping is golden and the filling is bubbling around the edges.
- Cool for at least ten minutes before serving.
* For American cup measurements, please click the pink link text above the ingredient list that says ‘American’.
Nutrition is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate. If this information is important to you, please have it verified independently.
This post was originally published in January 2016. It has been updated with a re-tested recipe, new text, and new photos as of October 2020.