Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Lightly butter a 10x15x2-inch baking dish.
Make the pear layer:
In a large bowl, gently toss the sliced pears with the sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Make sure the lemon juice completely coats the pears to keep them from browning. Sprinkle the crystallized ginger and flour over the top. Stir until evenly incorporated, breaking apart any ginger pieces that may be stuck together. Spread the pear mixture evenly in the bottom of the prepared pan and dot with the softened butter pieces.
Make the biscuit layer:
In a medium bowl, stir the flour, sugar, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, salt, and baking soda with a fork. With the fork, work in the shortening and the softened butter until the size of small peas.
In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, molasses, and vanilla extract. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the egg mixture into the well. Stir just until the dry ingredients are completely blended. Dollop the batter by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the pears to create a cobbled effect, taking care to space the dollops about 1 inch apart. (Though the batter will cover only about half of the pear layer, don’t spread it out. It will rise and spread to cover most of the pears as it bakes. If you run out of space to dollop the batter before it’s all used, distribute what remains among the existing dollops.)
Apply the topping and bake:
Sprinkle the nuts and sugar evenly over the cobbler. Bake until the pears are tender and the topping is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. If needed, rotate the pan midway through the baking to allow the top to brown evenly. Let rest at least 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm.
Make Ahead Tips
Though best eaten warm from the oven, this cobbler can be made a day ahead. To store the cobbler: Once completely cool, wrap the cobbler in plastic and store it at room temperature for up to 24 hours. For longer storage, refrigerate for up to one week. To reheat: Remove the plastic, cover loosely with foil, and set in a 300°F oven until warmed through, 20 to 25 minutes.
Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.
nutrition information (per serving):
based on 16 servings;
Photo: Scott Phillips