Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cherry Crisp

I probably know only three words to the song "Sweet Cherry Pie."  And you just read 'em.  As a kid I probably would have scrunched up my nose and told you I didn't like cherry pie, but that's because I'd only encountered the kind that came out of a can.  Since I've become cherry obsessed, I started fantasizing about making my own cherry pie.  The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to eat it, but the less I wanted to make it.  It dawned on me that I should make a cherry crisp instead because a) crisps are about 10% of the work and b) crisps often taste twice as good (whoa that was too much math for one day).  Now the problem is that since I've figured out how to make cherry crisp, I'll never know how good my own cherry pie would be...since I"ll never need to make it.

I scoured the internet for a good cherry crisp recipe, but surprisingly this concept is not very popular.  And the recipe in Joy of Cooking called for the dreaded canned cherry pie filling.  The horrors.  I developed my own recipe and I hope you like it as much as I do (well, did, it's long gone now).

The only real effort required is pitting 2 pounds of fresh sweet cherries.  Pitting cherries is no laughing matter - it took me 30 minutes even when a fancy cherry pitter. 

Pitted cherries resembled olives (which I detest).  They taste a tad sweeter, though. 

After you have pitted your cherries, mix them with 1/8-1/4 cup sugar (depending on the sweetness of your cherries), 2 tablespoons tapioca starch, the juice and zest of half a lemon, and a pinch of salt.  

I found that it helped to remove many of the stems at once and then go through and pit the cherries.  That way you could focus on the violent pitting instead of destemming as well.

If you've never pitted cherries, don't do so for the first time in a white shirt, or any shirt other than a red one.  It's a messy business and requires an apron.  Anything sitting nearby will also look disturbingly like you did some butchering that afternoon.

Because I was taking these crisps to-go (to Nitch's house), I decided to use my Le Creuset cocottes.  Also, they're just so darn cute.  You can use individual ramekins, which I recommend (it will make about six 1-cup sized desserts), or you can use a 9x9 pan.  Be sure to butter the containers first.

To make the crisp topping, add 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats, a pinch of salt, and 1/3 cup of cold, diced butter to a large bowl.  Using two knives or a pastry cutter, get to work combining the ingredients.  Do not stop until the topping looks like coarse pebbles. If there is still some flour/sugar at the bottom keep at it.

Top the cherries with the crisp and bake at 375 degrees for 27-35 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the cherries begin to bubble.  Topping this with vanilla ice cream is a must.  I made some for the occasion, but any kind will do.  This is a very sweet dessert because you can't escape how sweet cherries are.  The salt and lemon helps balance the flavors, but it is still very sweet.  Consider yourself on notice.  Even so, this dessert makes fresh cherries taste even better and I highly recommend it if you ever find yourself too lazy to make a cherry pie. 

Warn your guests that there might be a few stray pits left in the dessert.  Somehow mine had three and everyone else was essentially spared.  Karma? 

Cherry Crisp

About 2 pounds of fresh, sweet cherries, pitted
1/8-1/4 cup sugar (depending on sweetness of cherries)
2 tablespoons tapioca
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Pinch of salt

3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1/3 cup butter, cold and diced
Pinch of salt

Pit about 2 pounds of fresh, sweet cherries while wearing an apron or red shirt.  To the pitted cherries, and 1/8-1/4 cup sugar, depending on how sweet your cherries are (mine were very sweet).  Mix in 2 tablespoons tapioca starch, a pinch of salt, and the zest and juice of 1/2 lemon.

To make the crisp topping, in a large bowl add 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats, a pinch of salt, and 1/3 cup cold butter.  Using a pastry cutter or two knives, press the butter into the flour mixture until coarse pebbles form (keep at it until it happens).

Butter either individual ramekins (about six one-cup ramekins) or a small baking dish (perhaps about 9x9) and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Add the cherry mixture and then top with the crisp topping.  Bake at 375 for 27-35 minutes until golden brown on top.  Serve warm with ice cream.

The crisp topping and cherry mixture can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge separately.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading this and looking at the photos! Am going to bake this up tonight. Can't wait!


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