Fruit crisps are one of my favorite parts of the overabundance of fresh fruit associated with summer. No matter what you throw under that crisp, crumbly topping – blueberries, rhubarb, blackberries, apples, cherries, peaches – when you open the oven door you are greeted with bubbling fruit and that coveted crumble topping. It’s sort of like the shortcut version of a fruit pie. I haven’t done much baking with cherries to date, but after seeing so many gorgeous bags of cherries at the grocery store for so many weeks in a row, I was lured in. I figured I should strike while the iron was hot (i.e. while cherries were still in season). I haven’t made a fruit crisp in eons, so that was first on my list.
I adore staring at a fruit crisp or fruit pie straight from the oven. The juices are bubbling up (and sometimes running over), the top is golden brown, and it takes every ounce of self control I have not to dive right in immediately. Pies definitely require more discipline than crisps. They need to sit for hours to allow the filling to cool and set up appropriately. Crisps, on the other hand, can be dug into once they are cool enough not to burn your tongue. Advantage crisp here.
Although this isn’t really a battle between crisps and pies because, let’s face it, they both have some tremendous winning qualities. It all comes down to what you’re hungry for at the time and how much time you have. Crisps are wonderful to whip up when you are a little short on time – they are easy to throw together, it’s basically a 1-2-3 process, and you can eat them as soon as they come out of the oven.
What’s your favorite fruit to bake in a crisp (or crumble or cobbler)?
For the Crisp Topping:
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ cup light brown sugar
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
¾ cup pecans, finely chopped
For the Cherries:
6 cups fresh cherries, pitted
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon Amaretto
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and adjust oven rack to lower-middle position.
2. To prepare the topping, whisk together the flour, sugars, cinnamon and salt. Add the butter pieces and toss to coat with flour. Using your fingers, pinch the butter pieces together with the flour mixture until the mixture looks crumbly and like wet sand. Add the pecans and toss to distribute evenly. Refrigerate the topping mixture for at least 15 minutes.
3. While the topping mixture chills, get the cherries ready. In a small baking dish (about 1.5-qt or 8x8-inch), toss the cherries with the sugar, cornstarch and Amaretto. Sprinkle the topping mixture evenly over the cherries.
4. Bake for 40 minutes, then increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F and continue to bake until the fruit is bubbling and the topping is deep golden brown, about 5 minutes longer. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Note: You can omit the Amaretto if you'd like and just add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract instead.