Pear-Rhubarb Spéculos Crumble

We almost always have Lotus spéculos cookies and/or spread (a.k.a. Biscoff) on hand. These cookies are still one of the few allergy-friendly treats I can buy for my son in Switzerland. So when I recently saw a recipe for pear crumble with spéculos cookies in a French-cooking magazine, it didn’t take long for me to try it. I grew up eating fruit crisps (no oats) and crumbles (with oats), and I’m not sure I’ll ever make one again without these cookies!

For the pears, my favorite vendor at the farmers’ market recommended a Swiss-grown pear, la poire Conférence. This pear is apparently one of the most commonly grown in Europe. It was originally introduced at a “Pear Conference” in 1885—hence its name.


While my 2-year old loves pears, my 6-year old does not. However, he gladly ate them baked with rhubarb in this crumble. As you can see from the photo above, we’ve been generously topping our crumble with whipped soy cream mixed with powdered sugar and vanilla sugar. It’s made with fruit and oats, so I think it’s perfectly suitable for breakfast, right?

Pear-Rhubarb Spéculos Crumble

Inspired by the “Crumble poíres-spéculos” recipe in Saveurs magazine N°208.

(dairy, egg and nut-free)

3/4 cup spéculos cookies, crushed
1/2 cup oats (I use flocons d’avoine complète)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dairy-free margarine, softened
1/4 cup sugar

juice of one lemon, freshly squeezed
1 1/2 to 2 cups rhubarb, cut into pieces
4 1/2 to 5 cups pears – peeled, cored and cut into pieces
1 packet of vanilla sugar (7 grams) or 1 teaspoon vanilla and 1 teaspoon sugar

For use with a 9×13-inch (22x33cm) baking pan or an oval gratin pan of roughly the same size.

1. Prepare the crumble. Crush the cookies and mix together with the remaining ingredients. Set aside.

2. Squeeze the lemon juice into a large bowl with the vanilla sugar. Add the cut fruit and stir frequently to keep the pears coated with lemon juice to prevent them from browning.


3. Pour the fruit mixture into the pan, making sure it’s evenly dispersed. Then, sprinkle and spread the crumble mixture evenly over the fruit.

4. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 180°C/350°F until the fruit has softened a bit and the topping is golden brown. I recommend eating the crumble while it’s still warm. Otherwise, try and eat it the same day or shortly thereafter.

Later today, I’ll be catching a train to Ticino. I’m hoping to discover some new food specialties from Italian-speaking Switzerland. Bon week-end, everyone!


Super Quick: Birchermüesli sans Lait

You’ve probably heard of müesli before, right? Did you know it was invented in Switzerland over 100 years ago? Honestly, I think my initial introduction to müesli was via Kellogg’s “Müeslix” cereal in the US. Since then, I ate müesli when I traveled, but never at home. And, I didn’t know it was a Swiss thing until we moved here.

In Switzerland, grocery store shelves are lined with müesli options. Birchermüesli was the first müesli, named for its inventor, Dr. Maximilian Bircher-Brenner. The Zurich nutritionist was a major proponent of raw foods, and he developed müesli using freshly grated apple mixed with oats. The original recipe also included sweetened condensed milk (he was apparently concerned fresh milk at the time would contain tuberculosis), lemon juice and water, which were all soaked overnight to soften the oats by morning.


Using my Swiss cookbook, I adapted a recipe to create a dairy-free, single-serving of Birchermüesli. I think you don’t really need a recipe though, so this can be a loose guide for your müesli adventures.


Dairy-Free Birchermüesli

Serves 1

1 apple, grated
1 tablespoon oats
1 tablespoon soy yogurt
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
honey, to taste
Optional garnishes: red currants or other berries, ground hazelnuts or almonds

Mix together the above ingredients, and voila! A quick and healthy dairy-free breakfast.



Along with this müesli recipe, I wanted to share two other food allergy resources I came across recently:

How do you make müesli? Have you found a store-bought müesli that’s dairy, nut and egg-free? Please share your recipes and recommendations. Thanks so much!

Banana-Cocoa-Oatmeal Scones

The baking experiments continue… I made banana-cocoa-oatmeal scones for today’s morning snack. From our breakfast, I used up half a banana my son wouldn’t eat and our leftover oatmeal. Everything is so expensive here in Switzerland that I hate to throw anything away!

Once again, I didn’t use any measuring cups or spoons. I just dumped ingredients in a bowl, mixed them together, and threw it in the oven. This hasn’t always worked out, but I’ve been lucky so far.

At our local grocery store, I was pleased to find vegetable-based margarine. Today was my first time using it for baking. It’s the store brand, which I’ve found does a good job of labeling potential allergens. And, it’s much cheaper than the organic options.

We heard that our shipping container is somewhere near Antwerp, so we should be receiving it soon. I’m looking forward to getting my kitchen tools and gadgets back in use. Once I perfect my scone and other recipes with the proper measurements, I will add them to this site, for those that are interested.