Recipe: Cherry-almond crisp

The hardest part of making this is chopping the almonds.
The hardest part of making this is chopping the almonds.

This is a relatively easy summer (or any time of year) dessert that I’ve made several times in the last few months, but never with an entirely consistent recipe or while taking photos. This version turned out pretty well, I think. Almonds complement stone fruit like cherries, apricots, and peaches very nicely, so having them (plus a touch of almond extract) in the topping is a nice touch.

Sour cherry juice, reserved for making cherry soda!
Sour cherry juice, reserved for making cherry soda!

I’ve only ever made this with frozen sour cherries, but you could probably use fresh sour or sweet cherries just as well. In the latter case, I would reduce the amount of sugar in the filling to 3 Tbsp, or more or less to taste.

Filling

Topping

Cherry-Almond Crisp

Adapted from: Greatist (topping) and Epicurious (filling)

Yield: 1 8×8-inch crisp

Filling:
~2 lb frozen sour cherries, thawed
1/3 c sugar (or more to taste)
1.5 Tbsp quick-cooking tapioca
1 Tbsp kirsch or brandy (optional)

Topping version 1:
1/2 c whole almonds, chopped
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 c whole spelt or almond flour
1 c rolled oats
Dash of salt (optional)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
3 Tbsp honey**
2 Tbsp butter

Topping version 2:
1/2 c whole almonds, chopped
1/4 tsp almond extract
1/2 c whole spelt or almond flour
1 c rolled oats
Scant 1/4 c dark brown sugar
Dash of salt (optional)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1.5 Tbsp milk

Pour off most of the liquid from the thawed cherries*. Combine the cherries, sugar, tapioca and kirsch in a large bowl and toss to blend. Allow to sit for 15 minutes at room temperature, stirring once or twice. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375 F and butter a 8×8-inch glass baking dish. Transfer the cherry mixture to the prepared dish. Bake until fruit is tender and juices are thick and bubbly, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven.

While the cherries are baking, make the topping: Place chopped almonds in medium bowl. Sprinkle with almond extract and toss to coat. Mix in flour, oats, salt, and cinnamon. For version 1, melt together honey and butter and stir into topping until thoroughly coated. For version 2, mix in dark brown sugar with the dry ingredients, then pour milk and melted butter over it and stir to combine. Add more liquid if necessary until dry ingredients are dampened and hold clumps, but are not doughy. Sprinkle/spread topping uniformly over baked cherries. Bake at 375 F until fruit is heated through and top is golden brown, about 15-20 minutes. Cool 5-10 minutes before serving, preferably with vanilla ice cream.

*I like to reserve the cherry juice and mix it with about twice as much seltzer for sour cherry soda.

Done!
Done!

**9/1/14 edit: I made a double recipe of this for a Labor Day BBQ and substituted a scant 1/2 cup dark brown sugar plus 3 Tbsp milk for the honey (I felt that the honey in the topping had a strong flavor that wasn’t completely compatible with the cherry and almond. The new version turned out great, if somewhat more crumbly and less doughy. My preference is for the brown sugar version, but die-hard honey-lovers may prefer the original. Or if you’re using the topping for an apple crisp, either would taste good). I should have only made a single recipe of the topping, since there ended up being about twice as much as I needed.

New version with brown sugar and milk instead of honey.
New version with brown sugar and milk instead of honey.
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