…that had no stone,” sang burl ives, pete seeger, and carly simon, among others. so, when my parents handed me a beautiful basket of sour amarelle cherries from mike’s organic delivery i decided to give my love, a cherry aficionado, an appropriately delicious dessert. undaunted by my first foray in the kitchen with this bright red-orange fruit, i scoured recipes for ideas and came across one published in 1994 in the new york times column fruit for thought. however, the recipe – a simple sour cherry crumble – needed some tweaking to bring it into the 21st century. the addition of a few key ingredients – most notably kirschwasser, or cherry liqueur – made this into a rich crumble with a satisfyingly sticky filling and a sweet, crispy, nutty top that complements the cherries’ light sourness. the cherry on top, so to speak, was the great reception it got from my husband!
before you start: i find the easiest way to wash cherries is to put them in a bowl and cover them with cold water. let them sit for a few minutes, stirring a few times to loosen any debris. then, lift a few at a time out of the water, remove the stems, and put them on a dish towel to dry. once all the cherries are stemmed and dry you can move to the pitting. this can be accomplished with a pitter or by using a small paring knife to cut the cherries in half and then removing the pit by hand.
grown-up sour cherry crumble
3 1/2 cups fresh pitted sour cherries, with any juice that comes out during pitting
1/2 cup dried sour cherries
1/8 cup kirschwasser (i love clear creek distillery)
4 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup whole spelt flour (or flour of your choice)
1/3 cup light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into about 24 pieces
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup ground almonds
1/4 cup rolled oats
1. preheat oven to 375°f. in a medium bowl, combine the dried cherries and kirschwasser and let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to coat. strain off the kirschwasser and discard, then add the fresh cherries and sugar to the dried cherries, stir to combine, and let stand for another 10 minutes. place in a sieve and drain well, reserving the liquid. place the cherry mixture evenly in a 9-inch pie plate.*
2. in another medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, salt, and cinnamon. mix the butter in with your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal. add the walnuts, almonds, and oats and toss lightly to combine.
3. cover the cherries with the topping and bake until the topping is crisp and beginning to brown and the juices are bubbling, about 35 minutes. place on a rack to cool slightly before serving.
4. to serve, i suggest a scoop of vanilla ice cream with a drizzle of the reserved cherry liquid, although this crumble also has enough flavor to be enjoyed with no accessories at all!
if you enjoy this sour cherry crumble as much as i did, stay tuned… on august 3rd i’ll be releasing another cherry recipe as part of the food network’s summerfest!
*in exchange for the cherries, i wanted to give my parents some crumble, so i used several smaller ceramic dishes for baking rather than one large pie plate.