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 [email protected]