Rosemary or Thyme Pear Crisp

Bosc Pears

Bosc Pears

By Cat, Oct 2007 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)

There is nothing like a fruit crisp as dessert, any time of the year; simply use whatever fruit is in season:  apples, pears, peaches, nectarines, berries, or even a combination of these.  I don’t like my crisp too sweet, as the sweetness takes away from the pleasant tartness of the fruit.

The herbs in this recipe add a wonderful flavor to the fruit, but the use of herbs in sweet treats is not as common in the US as in Europe.

Rosemary or Thyme Pear Crisp

This recipe is adapted from the Daily InterLake, October 31, 2007, originally from the LA Times by Betty Hallock and Donna Deane (1).  The original recipe includes the herbs and ginger, but of course, the crisp can be made without them. If you want a more traditional crisp, add 1 tsp cinnamon (plus 1/4 tsp nutmeg, if desired) to the apples when you add the flour and sugar, and omit the herbs and ginger in the topping.

I prefer to leave the peel on my pears, as the peel contains vital nutrients, and also helps the pears to hold their shape when baked.  But you can peel them if you choose.

The original recipe calls for ¾ cup light brown sugar, packed, in the topping.  I prefer to use Rapadura sugar, which has similar color and flavor as light brown sugar. Or better yet, a bit of stevia and maple syrup (the maple syrup is important when using stevia, as it will help the topping to brown).

The original authors of the recipe write:  “Like lemon zest or ginger used in baking, rosemary and thyme focus the elements in fruit that aren’t sweet while tempering the sugars.  But the two herbs add their own pungent, piney nuances.”  I would not recommend using both herbs in the same batch of crisp.

This version does not use a presoaked crumble, but you can use the Yogurt-Spelt Crumble instead, using 2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary or thyme, and ½ tsp ground ginger instead of cinnamon and nutmeg.

Ingredients & Equipment:

  • Fruit:
  • 6 ripe Bartlett pears
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp Rapadura or light brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsp unbleached white flour
  • 1 vanilla bean, split (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • Topping
  • ¾ cup Rapadura or light brown sugar (or ⅛ – ¼ tsp stevia extract powder plus 1 Tbsp grade-B maple syrup)
  • 1 cup sprouted or whole wheat or spelt flour (or ¾ cup flour and ¼ cup rolled oats)
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp unrefined sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh rosemary or thyme
  • ½ cup (1 stick) cold butter, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • Equipment
  • large bowl
  • medium bowl
  • pastry cutter or fork
  • 9″ round or square cake pan, or deep dish pie pan


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Fruit: Quarter, core and peel (optional) the pears.  Place in a bowl of water with lemon juice added, as you go, to prevent browning.
  3. Pat pear quarters dry, then cut each crosswise into ¼ inch-thick slices into a dry bowl, to make about 6 cups sliced pears.
  4. Toss with 2 Tbsp each flour and sugar, and seeds from vanilla bean (scrape from pod with tip of a knife; or use extract).  Set aside.
  5. Topping: Combine all topping ingredients except butter in medium bowl.  Stir to blend, then add butter and work into the dry ingredients with fork or pastry cutter, until crumbly.
  6. Bake: Spoon pear mixture into baking pan.  Sprinkle crumb topping evenly over the top of the fruit.  Bake 35 – 40 minutes (or longer for other fruits) in preheated oven, until bubbly and lightly browned on top, and a toothpick inserted through the topping into the fruit can be removed easily.
  7. Remove from oven and let stand until warm before serving.

Assembly or Serving Suggestions


  1. Daily Inter Lake, October 31, 2007, originally from the LA Times

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