This time of year is fraught with temptation, from the leftover Halloween candy to turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, to toffee and fudge, Christmas tree-shaped sugar cookies, and Santa Hat Brownies. I don’t plan on cutting out all of these sweets completely, but, this year it is my goal to practice more restraint, maintain some sort of fitness routine, and indulge in healthier treats.
These seasonal Apple and Pear Crisps make a great snack, and contain less fat and calories than many holiday treats. They’re also easy to make, especially if you have a mandoline to make thin, even slices. Just throw them in the oven and forget about them for a couple of hours and you’ll be rewarded with these crunchy crisps that will satisfy your sweet tooth without the guilt! While the apples and pears may be baked plain for a super healthy snack, a little bit of sugar and spices will make them taste even better, while still being good for you.
I sprinkled the apple slices with a little less than a tablespoon of the vanilla sugar and cinnamon mixture, which is just enough to give them a warm, sweet aroma and flavor. Simple and delicious! On the other hand, the pears were a little fancier, with the addition of cocoa powder and ginger to the cinnamon-sugar mixture. The combination of chocolate and ginger was a wonderful complement to the pear’s natural sweetness. The pear crisps were a touch chewy; perhaps, I should have left them in the oven a little longer. Nonetheless, they were very tasty!
These crisps will make a good snack after a nice, long walk, don’t you think?
Apple and Pear Crisps
Yields about 60-70 pieces
For Apple Crisps
1 tablespoon granulated sugar or vanilla sugar*
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 apples (I used one Granny Smith and one Honey Crisp)
For Pear Crisps
2 granulated sugar
1-1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, cardamom, or Chinese Five Spice Powder (I used ground ginger)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 firm pears (I used Bosc)
*Note: To make vanilla sugar, split a vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into 2 cups of sugar and stir to combine thoroughly. Cut the pod in half and add to the sugar as well. Vanilla sugar may be stored indefinitely in an airtight container. Replenish with more sugar or additional vanilla beans as necessary.
Heat oven to 250 degrees F. Line baking sheets with Silpat (silicone baking mats) or parchment paper.
In a small bowl, combine vanilla sugar and cinnamon. In another bowl, combine sugar, cocoa powder, ginger or Chinese Five Spice Powder, and cinnamon. Set aside.
Wash apples and pears. Using a mandoline or sharp knife, slice apples and pears about 1/8-inch thick. Arrange slices in a single layer on prepared baking sheets. Sprinkle the spiced sugar evenly over fruit slices.
Bake for 1 hour and flip over and sprinkle more spiced sugar on other side, if desired. Continue to bake until slices appear dry, approximately another 30 to 40 minutes. Turn off the oven and leave baking pans in for another hour. This step will dry the slices even more and help them get crunchy.
Store apple and pear chips at room temperature in an airtight container.
Pear Crisps adapted from Not Derby Pie.
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