Cherry Crisp recipe is sweet and juicy

By the time I was halfway through my pile of cherries, the tips of my fingers were already stained a deep shade of red.

Cherries are in season (at $1.99 a pound some places!) and they are sweet, plump, and what I want for breakfast or dessert.

Last week's cherries were off to the oven. It was only four days after finding a recipe for a whole-grain skillet crisp on the food blog, a Sweet Spoonful, that we had a skillet full of bubbling cherries on our table. The 20-minute cooling time was a terrible wait.

I made a few substitutions. A quick Google search offers easy ways to make buttermilk with lemon, yogurt, or cream of tartar, but I decided to use some fancy heavy cream instead. Flour replaced cornstarch since we'd used up our last box on a few rounds of crispy tofu.

I love these crisps, or crumbles, as some people call them, because they remind me of pie without having to roll out dough or consider lattice tops. This crisp is for the lazy baker who loves pie. Cherries are dreamy right now, but so are other stone fruits, including peaches, nectarines and plums. Swap in any of those or try ripe berries.

My boyfriend said this crisp is where my olive oil granola meets date bars. He's not wrong. The crispy topping is full of oats and cinnamon, so I see what he means. We ate a couple slices of the crisp quickly that morning with cups of strong coffee. You should definitely do the same. Maybe a little whipped cream, too. The whole thing crumbles when served, but the fruit seems to set somewhat by the next day.

On Monday, the crisp mostly gone, my fingernails were still stained at the edges. Pitting cherries, they say, is a labor of love. At this time of year it's worth it. We shared the rest of the crisp that night in a bowl with vanilla ice cream.

A few days later, I picked up my paring knife and started splitting cherries for the second crisp in a week. You should know, the second round was just as good as the first. And it won't be the last.

Ileana Morales is a writer who cooks in a small apartment kitchen in Tampa with boyfriend, Danny Valentine, an education reporter for the Tampa Bay Times. For more of their kitchen adventures, visit Ileana's blog, alittlesaffron.com. She can be reached at alittlesaffron@gmail.com.

>>Moderate

Cherry and Almond Crisp

For the topping:

½ cup whole wheat flour

3 tablespoons brown sugar

½ cup almond meal (see note)

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon kosher salt

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into ½-inch cubes, plus more to grease the skillet

¼ cup heavy cream or buttermilk

¾ cup rolled oats

½ cup sliced almonds

For the filling:

1 ¾ pounds (about 6 cups) fresh cherries, stemmed and pitted

3 tablespoons brown sugar (any will work, but I'd go with brown or turbinado)

Juice of ½ lemon

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon flour or 2 teaspoons cornstarch

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

To make the topping, combine the whole wheat flour, brown sugar, almond meal, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times to combine. Add the cold butter. Pulse several times, about 20 to 30 seconds, until mixture resembles cornmeal. You can also do this by hand (with a pastry cutter) and cut in the butter.

Slowly add the heavy cream and continue pulsing (or mixing) until liquid is absorbed. The dough should be clumpy.

Transfer the mixture to a bowl. Mix in the oats and almonds.

To prepare the filling, toss together the cherries, sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract and flour in a medium mixing bowl. Generously butter the bottom and sides of a 10- or 12-inch cast iron skillet. (Use an ovenproof pan or casserole dish if you don't have cast iron.) Spread the cherries evenly in the skillet.

Spoon the topping over the fruit, spreading it out evenly. If the cherries show through the edges, that's fine. It's kind of pretty actually.

Place skillet in the center of the oven and bake until the top is golden brown and the cherry juices are bubbling, about 30 minutes. Rotate the skillet halfway through the baking time.

Remove skillet from the oven and let the crisp cool for at least 20 minutes before serving. Serve the crisp warm or at room temperature. It will keep beautifully at room temperature for up to one more day. Just keep the top covered in plastic wrap.

Note: The topping recipe can be used for other fruits, especially stone fruits and berries. To make your own almond meal, grind ¾ cup sliced almonds in the food processor to get the ½ cup you need in this recipe.

Serves 6 to 8.

Source: Adapted from ASweetSpoonful.com

Cherry Crisp recipe is sweet and juicy 08/19/13 [Last modified: Monday, August 19, 2013 5:16pm]

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