NUTTY STREUSEL-TOPPED CREAMY CRANBERRY OR CHERRY, APPLE OR PEAR PIE
one 9-inch pie
Nutty Streusel Crumb Topping:
½ (15-ounce) package refrigerated pie crusts (1 crust), or one 9-inch unbaked pie shell (favorite pastry recipe)
Wedges of sharp Cheddar cheese for garnish (optional)
Prepare Nutty Streusel Crumb Topping. In a medium bowl, combine nuts, flour, and brown sugar; with a pastry blender or two table knives, cut butter into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse pebbles. Set aside.
Line a pie plate with pastry crust; flute edge of crust by pinching crust with forefinger and thumb at evenly spaced intervals. Line crust with a sheet of aluminum foil; spread a thin layer of uncooked rice over foil. Partially bake crust in a preheated hot oven (425 degrees F.) for 7 minutes. Remove crust from oven; remove foil and rice and allow crust to cool while preparing filling. Reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees F.
In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour, nutmeg, and salt, mixing well; gradually add cream or half-and-half, blending well. Prepare apples or pears and place in a large bowl; add cranberries or cherries to apples or pears. Add cream mixture, mixing gently but well with apple/pear slices and cranberries/cherries. Turn apple/pear/cranberry/cherry mixture into prepared pie shell. Very loosely cover pie with aluminum foil; arrange pie on a rack in the center of the lower third of a preheated hot oven (400 degrees F.). Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes or until apples or pears are tender and sauce is thickened and bubbly hot. Evenly sprinkle Nutty Streusel Crumb Topping over apples/cranberry filling. Continue baking, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes or until streusel topping is crispy and golden brown. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 10 to 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature, plain or garnished with a wedge of sharp Cheddar cheese.