Nutty Pear Crumble is a delicious, tart-inspired dessert that features a vegan cashew custard with a gluten-free cookie crumb bottom.
This creamy pear dessert can be baked two ways, in a Mason jar or in a creme brulee dish and meets a variety of dietary needs, making it the perfect treat for holiday dinners! It is gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan, but just as rich and decadent as a buttery dessert.
Recently on a media tour of Gettysburg, I was introduced to Hollabaugh Bros. Farm Market. They are a family owned farm and orchard that features pick-your-own produce, a farm market, a bakery, and cooking classes. It was so fun to visit them, take a class, tour the farm…but the best part was bringing goodies home to bake with!
I love pears, but I had never heard of these sweet little beauties called Seckels until I visited Hollabaugh Bros. Seckels are very small pears that have a creamy white flesh. It sounds like they would be a great garden fruit tree because they are self-pollinating and semi-dwarf, hence the small size fruit. Also called a Sugar Pear, I thought that their small stature and sweet, juicy flavor would make them perfect for individual desserts.
So, I gave myself the tall order of making a gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan tartlets with these pears. Not easy for someone who doesn’t follow any of these diets and loves butter and baked goods, but I was determined to tackle this goal. Everything was looking great until it was time to pop them out…They were delicious but would not release from the tart pans without crumbling, so I had a make-it-work moment and decided that the issue was the baking dish not the dessert itself.
So I’m showing you two ways you can bake up this wonderful nutty pear….tart….pie-in-a jar…..parfait…..”crumble.” That’s the name I’ve given it, but don’t box in this dessert! It defies expectations!
It can be made in small individual dishes or in a jar. I had these creme brulee dishes on hand and thought I would try them since they were only slightly larger than the tart pans I was using. And then I found these Hazel Atlas Mason jars at an indoor flea market and thought I would give them a try too. (Also got these cute cocktail napkins at the same place!)
Both ways worked great, but my favorite was the Mason jars. I love how they show off the layers of this Nutty Pear Crumble… cookie and nut crust, creamy cashew custard and on top, the whole Seckel pear with a dusting of cinnamon sugar. So pretty and so yum!
I tested these out on several of my neighbors (without telling them they were vegan) and they were a hit, so even if you are not gluten-free, dairy-free or vegan, I promise you’ll like them too!
- 3 cups ground cookies I used Enjoy Life Snickerdoodle Cookies
- 2 cups ground almonds or cashews
- 4 TB coconut oil
- cups ¾ turbinado sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups cashews soaked in hot water for an hour or more and then drained
- 4 TB gluten free/vegan flour
- 1 cup applesauce
- 1 cup organic sugar
- cup ½ coconut oil
- 4 tsp vanilla extract
- Seckel pears number depends on baking dish
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 2 TB turninado sugar
- 1/8 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 325F
In a food processor, combine ground cookies, ground nuts, salt and sugar.
Pulse to combine.
Add coconut oil and pulse again (crust should look a bit wet and should hold together when squeezed).
Press dough into jars (a muddler can be helpful) or individual dishes.
Chill crusts in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
Bake for 15-25 minutes or until crust looks dry.
Let crusts cool.
In a bowl combine lemon juice, sugar, cinnamon and vanilla extract.
If leaving pears whole, core pears from the bottom (I used a jalapeno corer).
If using pear halves, cut in half and core with a paring knife.
Peel pears and slice diagonally from 1/3 a way down from the top to the bottom.
Carefully transfer the pears into the lemon mixture and let sit for a minute or two.
In a food processor combine soaked cashews, flour, apple sauce, sugar, coconut oil and vanilla and grind for about 5 minutes or until very smooth.
Spoon custard onto crusts and then place pears onto the custard.
Sprinkle tops with cinnamon sugar and bake for 20-30 minutes.
When done, pears should be softened, custard should be puffed and slightly browned and the crust should be golden.
Best served the day they are made.
You can prep the cashew custard, the lemon mixture and the cookie crust a day in advance. Store all three in the refrigerator in tightly covered dishes until ready to assemble and bake.