Spiced Pear, Cranberry and Marzipan Crumble

Spiced Pear, Cranberry and Marzipan Crumble | A Sweet SpoonfulWhile I’m never one to rush things this time of year, in staring at my little desk calendar this morning, it’s become clear that Thanksgiving is on the horizon. This year, we’re hosting Sam’s family again for what will be the second time, and I’m not going to lie: I don’t feel any more organized or together after Round 1. Last year there was a lot of turkey talk and I panicked (in hindsight, irrationally so), admitted I had no clue what I was doing, and delegated the bird to Sam who really waited until the eleventh hour (i.e. Wednesday) to buy the turkey and we ended up having a roulade situation instead of a traditional roasted bird, which was all fine and good. I made pie and cranberries and mashed potatoes. I recall making a chicory salad but no one seems to remember it, so it clearly didn’t make that big of an impression. Sam’s sister Christa brought her famous stuffed mushrooms and his nephew, Kevin, brought wine. People were happy, so I was happy.

But it does seem that, regardless if you’ve been hosting for two years or twenty, there’s this constant impetus to regroup and reimagine and somehow do it all better each year. And on one hand, I get that: all the food magazines come, each claiming to have the end all and be all in revamped stuffing or the newest trick to mashed potatoes and it’s all … a little exhausting, isn’t it? What I crave isn’t so much the newest, edgiest stuffing but more the gold standards that we pull out every year. Our family’s classics. We don’t have those yet, but we’re working on it. If it were up to Sam, this simple fruit crisp would be a candidate for sure, and if you’re someone who trembles at the thought of homemade pie, this is a stellar way to make life a little simpler this year.

Spiced Pear, Cranberry and Marzipan Crumble | A Sweet Spoonful

Fruit crisps and crumbles are great because they’re rustic and forgiving and relatively hard to truly mess up. I used to make a Pear and Cranberry Pie in my early days at Marge, when I’d bake in the wee hours of the morning and sell slices at the farmers market in San Francisco. I often had a slice, sometimes still warm, for breakfast in that period of time after I’d set up the booth but before any customers would arrive. Because our market was in a particularly foggy neighborhood that rarely saw sun, the mornings were really cold and damp: I’d layer up and do a lot of pacing and had a little camp heater at my feet. Pie and coffee always helped. Spiced Pear, Cranberry and Marzipan Crumble | A Sweet SpoonfulSo this crisp is inspired by that pie and my fond memories of those days, and the filling is virtually the same. I mixed up the crumble topping by adding Bob’s Red Mill whole wheat flour, marzipan and sliced almonds to make it a bit more special, a bit less everyday. It’s still as simple as can be to pull together, but feels holiday-worthy. I realize not everyone loves marzipan and the camp seems to be pretty strongly divided, but if you’re in the Pro Camp as we happen to be, I think you’ll be quite fond of this dessert.
Spiced Pear, Cranberry and Marzipan Crumble | A Sweet SpoonfulI plan to post a few simple holiday recipes this month that I hope you may find inspiring, or may help you round out a holiday meal this season. In truth, I’m doing this a bit selfishly as I’m trying out a few dishes before the holiday myself to see if they’re good candidates for our ‘do again’ list — no crazy four-layer pies or revolutionary ways to do cranberry sauce, but just great, simple classics with perhaps a bit of a twist that I hope you’ll love. We’ll start here, with dessert. Always a solid place to start. Spiced Pear, Cranberry and Marzipan Crumble | A Sweet SpoonfulCook’s Note: When shopping for marzipan, if you can find almond paste it’s virtually the same thing, but even better — it’s more difficult to find, so I wrote marzipan into the recipe, but in general, almond paste has less sugar and more ground almonds. Either one will be fine in this recipe.

Spiced Pear, Cranberry and Marzipan Crumble

Spiced Pear, Cranberry and Marzipan Crumble

  • Yield: 6-8 servings
  • Prep time: 20 mins
  • Cook time: 45 mins
  • Total time: 1 hr 5 mins

I generally use either Anjou or Bartlett pears (or a mix of both) for baking as they still hold their shape for the most part and don’t become too mushy. While I love this crisp in the fall, I think it’d be great with berries, too — just keep the proportions of fruit the same and feel free to experiment.



4 medium Bosc or Anjou pears, peeled, cored and coarsely chopped (about 5 cups/700g)
1 1/2 cups (130g) fresh cranberries
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/3 cup (60g) light brown sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt


7 ounces (195g) almond paste or marzipan, crumbled
3/4 cup (105g) whole wheat flour
1/4 cup (45g) light brown sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into ¼ inch cubes, plus more for pan
1/2 cup (55g) sliced raw almonds


Preheat the oven to 375 F and position a rack in the center of the oven.

Place a 2-quart baking dish (or a 9-inch pie pan or 10-inch tart or quiche pan) and place on a rimmed baking sheet.

Make the filling: In a medium bowl, toss together the pears, cranberries, lemon juice, brown sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, cloves and salt.

Make the topping: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the almond paste, flour, brown sugar, salt, and butter until the mixture begins to clump together, about 30 pulses (or just let it run continuously until mixture clumps, 20 seconds or so). Scrape into a small mixing bowl, add the sliced almonds and stir to combine. Mixture will be super clumpy.

Scrape the fruit filling into the pan and scatter the topping on top. Bake for 45-50 min, or until the fruit is bubbling up around the edges just a bit and the topping is golden brown. The crumble is best eaten soon after baking but will keep at room temperature just fine for 1-2 days or refrigerated for up to 3 days.



  1. Mary Ann

    Good morning Megan, we have an apple orchard so I am going to sub apples for the pears and make this for the weekend. It sounds delicious! Thank you for your posts. I am always successful with your recipes and they become standards!

    1. megang

      That makes my day, Mary Ann! Thank you so much. It'll be delicious with apples (if they're very firm, may have to bake the crisp just a bit longer - I'd stick a sharp knife down in there just to be sure the apples are done). Enjoy!

  2. Kristie

    This recipe looks so delicious and seasonal! Are there any GF flours you think would sub particularly well for the whole wheat?

    1. megang

      Hi, Kristie! Thanks for the comment. You know, I imagine quinoa or millet flour would be great. If you have an all-purpose GF flour blend you like, that would be great too - the crumble topping is pretty versatile and, as you probably noticed, doesn't contain a ton of flour to begin with, so I bet you'll have success with quite a few alternative flours. Good luck!

  3. Traci Prendergast

    Love your blog and recipes, Megan. I think you need this video (about preparing turkey) in your life: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=foA0MGUbYH0

    1. megang

      Truly incredible, Traci. I just sent this on to my family :) Thank you for sharing!

  4. Kathy K

    Any suggestions for additions or corrections to the topping if the marzipan is left out of the recipe? I have everything else to make this beautiful dessert today! (I have your cookbook on my Kindle and use it often. This time of year the Morning Glory oatmeal is a favorite.)

    1. megang

      Hi, Kathy-
      You know, I'd add another handful of sliced almonds (maybe another 1/2 cup) but put them in the food processor. The butter should hold everything together so I *think* it will be ok without the marzipan - just no big almond flavor, obviously. But still delicious. Let me know what you think! Enjoy.

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