Spiced Pear Crumble Bars are a delicately spiced shortbread bar filled with fresh juicy pears. Enjoy this easy fall dessert any time of the day.
I’ve had the most beautiful pears sitting on the counter for almost a week now waiting for me to decide what to do with them. Mine are an heirloom variety, but I don’t remember the name, all I can tell you that they are the kind that are meant to be crunchy, even when they’re fully ripe, and that makes them perfect for baking. Chances are you’ve got some pretty nice pears, too, they’re at the height of their season right now. The varieties can be confusing so I usually just choose the ones that appeal to me, and for this recipe, the hard ones are ok. Think of them as apples…they will cook up in the oven to the perfect consistency. If you have soft pears, they’ll cook up to a jammy filling, so either way is great.
There are some spectacular pear desserts out there on Pinterest, pears just seem to lend themselves to dramatic treatment, but you can usually count on me to choose the simpler path. The fancy pear cakes and tarts are spectacular for a special occasion, but this one is for everyday. Even if I’m busy or tired it’s hardly any effort at all to pull together the easy dough and peel and slice the pears.
So often I go with bold flavors in my recipes, but this one is soft and retiring… I played with gingerbread spices in the dough, but toned them down a bit so they don’t overpower the delicate fruit. I’m obsessed with the combination of gingerbread and pear, and I even made a molasses glaze for these bars which was fantastic. You have the option to use it or not.
One surprise is that pears, and quince, too, both fall fruits, sometimes turn a little pink as they cook. There’s a chemical in them that’s related to the one responsible for fruit browning when it’s cut, and it causes that blush tinge when the fruit is heated. I think it’s so pretty.
Drizzle the bars with the molasses glaze, or not, it’s good both ways.
- 1 cup (16 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2/3 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 3 good sized pears
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
- cream or milk
- Set the oven to 350F
- Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the salt, vanilla, and spices.
- Gradually add in the flour and mix just until it is combined, it will be crumbly.
- Take about 2/3 of the dough and press it into the bottom of a 9x9 square baking pan. I like to line the pan with parchment paper with long ends so that I can lift it out after it cools...it makes cutting easier and prettier, but this is optional. Try to cover the whole bottom surface, using your hands to lightly pat the dough down.
- Peel and slice your pears. Slice them quite thin if they are crisp, and if they are soft you can slice them thicker. Toss the pears with the cornstarch and lemon juice, make sure to get them all coated.
- Put the pears in the pan on top of the layer of dough. Top with the rest of the dough, dropping it in crumbles across the pears. Don't worry if the fruit shows through the crumbles, that's fine.
- Bake for about 35-40 minutes until the top is starting to turn light brown around the edges and you can hear the fruit bubbling.
- Let cool before drizzling with the glaze.
- To make the glaze, add a little molasses into the sugar and stir to combine. Add enough so it becomes a thick mass. Then stream in a little milk or cream to thin it to a drizzling consistency.