Let’s Get This Party Started With Sour Cherry Crisp
I love Memorial Day weekend because it means that summer is basically here. Sure we still have to get through a few more weeks of school, but it’s close enough that a palpable excitement is in the air at our house. The barbecue will now get fired up with greater frequency and impromptu gatherings will be so much easier when we can ignore the state of chaos inside the house and just head straight for the deck. Sure, I can rally around whatever the season, but summer is when I thrive. Warm weather and no school for the kids also means that evenings are a lot less frantic. Easy, breezy cooking and al fresco dining nearly every night coupled with less rushing around makes me appreciate summer vacation almost as much as our junior foodies do.
Then there is the summer bounty that is headed our way: big fluffy heirloom heads of lettuce, peppers with a color and heat for every palate, eggplant and of course tomatoes! Peaches and apricots have begun to grace us with their presence along with delicious berries that just keep getting sweeter with each new harvest. This week brings us new delights with the appearance of nectarines and those perennial summer favorites: cherries. For me cherries truly herald summer’s arrival. Dark, sweet cherries are first to arrive, followed by a very brief appearance of sour pie cherries like Montmorency. Don’t be fooled by adjectives like tart and sour or believe that this cherry is just for pie. Not only are these delicious for cooking, but they are also fantastic when dried and pretty delicious just for snacking.
I have a bad habit of saving my favorite seasonal bounty for far too long. Even with the relatively small freezer in our basement fridge, I manage to stash all kinds of things in there and then forget about them. Case in point: here we are almost to cherry season and my freezer still holds 2 precious pounds of pitted, ready-to-make-something-delicious, sour cherries. I had great plans for enjoying the sweet taste of summer at some point during the cold winter months, but there never seemed to be the right occasion or the right recipe or enough to feed all my guests or too many to feed just the four of us – I really must get better at this. With the holiday weekend upon us I decided to take those precious ruby gems from the freezer and turn them into a light dessert. Something simple, of course, and not too heavy, that would remind us summer is on its way. Oh, and how about some whole grains, not too much sugar and a light hand with the butter? Sure, bring it on. It’s (just about) summer and we should all celebrate.
Adapted from Eating Well
Sour cherries are also referred to as “pie” or “tart” cherries. They are perfect for cooking because they have a delicious complex sweetness that is coaxed out with just a little bit of sugar. The rye flour in this crisp was really wonderful and worth seeking out, but you could substitute whole wheat flour or a Gluten Free flour and I’m sure it would work equally well.
- 6 cups sour cherries, fresh or frozen, pitted
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon kirsch or brandy (optional)
- 2/3 cup rye flour
- 1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Pinch of salt
- 4 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- To prepare filling, combine cherries, granulated sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice and kirsch (or brandy), if using, in a large bowl; toss to coat. Place the filling in an 8-inch-square baking dish (or similar 1 1/2- to 2-quart dish). Cover with foil. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make topping. Mix flour, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl with a fork. Add butter and blend with a pastry blender or your fingertips, until well combined. You should be able to squeeze a handful and have it hold together.
- After 20 minutes, remove filling from oven, remove foil, stir the fruit filling and sprinkle the topping evenly over it. Bake, uncovered, until the fruit is bubbly and the topping is lightly browned, 20 to 30 minutes more. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature, with vanilla frozen yogurt, if desired.
What is your favorite cherry recipe? Please share them in the comments below.