Whidbey Island Crisp

A million and a half hours ago, I use to work at one of Seattle’s famous Seafood Restaurants. I was a forgettable busser. I had decided that I was going to try being in the “front of the house” (wait staff) for the first time, while I had friend’s from culinary school in the “back of the house” (kitchen).  It was far from my favorite job but I did love the staff meals, and some I still make at home. We’d also sometimes be the first to sample the desserts. They liked to cook with local and seasonal foods, and crisp was always on the menu. It’s so much easier to make then pies, it can feed a crowd and honestly plating is easier because if it looks like a heap on the plate, that’s perfectly fine. Crisps in my house growing up were always apple or the occasional black berry. At the restaurant they had a seasonal cobbler that was peach and raspberry, and it was delicious! I’m sad to admit that it took me 18 years to think 2 different fruits can be in a crisp at the same time!

As great as the crisp was at the restaurant, I was fonder of my grandmother’s crisp, especially the crust. It’s not a fancy crust with oats and nuts; it’s more of a shortbread/biscuit cobbler style. That summer while I was working, I went to Whidbey Island to visit my grandparents and family and we needed a good dessert to feed the masses. On the property there are a lot of fruit trees and since they live on a bluff that was usually covered in blackberry vines we had plenty of berries. Being early summer, the stone fruit wasn’t ready and the apples were far from it, but the pears were perfect! I picked a few of those and sent my younger cousins out to pick the black berries. My new favorite crisp was born! I personally love pears so I make this crisp more often then just an apple or blackberry now.


Whidbey Island Crisp                                                                                                             Yield: 6-8 servings

3 Bartlett Pears (or Bosc, or green Anjou), peeled, cored and diced

1 pint Black Berries

1/4c Sugar

1T Corn Starch

Pinch of Salt


1 cube cold Butter, cut into small cubes

1c Sugar

3/4c Flour

To Start: Preheat oven at 350°. Butter a medium sized baking dish, to prevent sticking.


Step One: In a large bowl add the pear, blackberries, 1/4c sugar, salt, and corn starch. Mix well until everything is coated with sugar and corn starch.


Step One: In another bowl mix together butter, flour and sugar and mix until the butter is the size of peas. The crisp topping will be dry with chunks of butter, it will not look like a typical crisp topping and that’s ok.

Step Two: Sprinkle the topping on the top of the crisp covering it completely. Place the crisp in the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes or until bubbly and the topping is golden brown. Let cool for 15-20 minutes before serving. 

Try serving with ice cream or whipped cream.

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