by Carrie Havranek
This past weekend, we went fruit picking at Phillips Farms in Milford, New Jersey. We wound up coming home with way more cherries than blueberries and raspberries for reasons too complicated to get into, but which can be explained pretty quickly with a few words: a gaggle of children.
However, this presented me with a new challenge: how many things can you do with sweet cherries while they have their brief moment on the trees, the tables at farmers’ markets, and the produce section of the supermarket? The answer came to me pretty quickly: individual cherry crumbles.
Individual dessert portions are not fussy, I promise you. In fact, they’re kind of genius because portion control is built right in. You can make this lickety split; if you have a pitter, it goes even faster. I broke down and bought this quasi-unitasker (it also does olives) because what else do you do when you are confronted with 5+ pounds of cherries? You need to deal with them expediently, so you don’t curse your own judgment for picking them in the first place, and get down to enjoying them in myriad forms. You could certainly use sour cherries instead; if so, I would start at 1/4 cup of granulated sugar and add more to taste.
Individual Cherry Crumbles: Serves 6
- 3 cups pitted cherries; cut them in half if they are larger than a marble
- Scant 1/4 cup water (should be enough to coat bottom of pan)
- 3-4 Tbsp. granulated sugar
- Zest and juice of one lime
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (if you have it; otherwise use all AP)
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
- 1/4 cup light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts (or almonds would work well, too)
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Line up 6 ramekins on a baking sheet. Greasing them is optional.
- Combine the first five ingredients (cherries through cornstarch) in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring them to a boil, and then let them simmer for 3-5 minutes until they start to release their juices and soften a bit. You’re basically giving them a jump on things before they go into the oven. Turn the heat off and set saucepan aside.
- In a medium bowl, combine the flours, salt, ground ginger, and sugar. Stir until there are no visible clumps of sugar. Add the melted butter and stir together. You will need to get your hands in there to incorporate all the butter and make sure you can clump it up into crumbly bits.
- Spoon about 1/2 cup or so of the cherries into each ramekin. Sprinkle the topping over each. Top with the chopped hazelnuts.
- Bake for about 15-18 minutes, until the filling starts bubbling and the nuts are toasted.
- Allow them to cool for at least 1/2 hour, serve and enjoy!
You can then either serve these as they are, or carefully remove them (if you are going to do that, grease the ramekins first) to a plate or shallow bowl, and serve with good quality vanilla ice cream. On the night I made these, one of my boys did not eat much dinner yet seemed very willing to eat dessert. No chance. So I placed a lid of aluminum foil on top of his uneaten ramekin of cherry crumble, and put it in the fridge, once it had cooled to room temperature. Reheating it should be a snap, at say 300 degrees or so for 5-10 minutes.
Carrie Havranek is a writer in Easton who still has at least three pounds of cherries left in her fridge.