Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Cherry O, Cherry Crisp, Baby

You know, I'm in love with you.

I could not resist the piles of fresh, delicious Bing cherries going for a song at the store.

In my book, there's nothing better to do with middle-of-July cherries than eat them by the handful, particularly when they are plump, dark, firm, and bursting with that perfect, cabernet-esque* blend of tart and sweet.   But a very close second is baking them into my sister'**s incredible cherry pie, which she makes for me as a special treat sometimes.   The other day, I needed a dessert for my bread baking class, and found inspiration in my fruit bin.  Being a bit too short on time to duplicate that pie***, I decided to blow off the crust part and invent a crisp instead.  What happened was very, o, very, good, baby!

Fresh Cherry Crisps

For the fruit:
5-6 cups fresh cherries, pitted and quartered****
1 1/2 c. sugar
generous 1/3 c. flour
pinch of salt
3 Tbs. good dessert wine, sherry or port

For the topping:
2 c. flour
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 c. (2 sticks), butter, at room temperature, cut into smaller pieces
1/2 tsp. almond extract (optional)

Place the cherries in a large bowl, then add the sugar, flour and salt.  Stir to coat cherries evenly, then add the wine.  Stir, and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes, or even better, overnight, to allow the fruit to release its juices.

Meanwhile, prepare the topping.  Combine flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon in a food processor, and pulse several times to mix well.  With machine running, begin dropping in the butter, piece by piece, until mixture resembles chunky crumbs.  Drizzle in the almond extract, and pulse a few more times to combine completely.  At this point, you can refrigerate the topping in a sealed plastic bag or container, until you are ready to bake the crisps.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Butter 8 individual ramekins, or one 9 inch round or square baking dish.  Divide cherry mixture between ramekins (or pour into your baking dish), taking care to spoon any extra juices in around the cherries.  Using your hands, crumble topping mixture over the cherries, being very generous.  The topping will condense as it cooks.  Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes, or until topping is golden brown and cherry juice is bubbling through.   For a single larger crisp, baking time may be 35-40 minutes.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

Click to print this recipe!

* If a cab can have "hints of cherry", is it recursive of me to say that a cherry can be cabernet-esque?"  Hmm...
** Who definitely needs more than just a little treat right now, but is being very brave and calm about everything. Somebody out there needs to give her a f#@?/*ing break already.
*** Let's face it.  I was beyond being a little short on time.  I was more like completely overdrawn and bouncing the rent check kind of short on time.
**** Honestly, if you don't own a cherry pitter, just eat all the cherries and make cookies instead.  No matter how good this recipe is, it's not worth pitting all those cherries by hand.

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