Dear readers, as you are my witnesses, I’m hereby confessing a minor addiction to sour cherries. After a year-long wait for sour cherry season, I’ve put up a pitcher of sour cherry liqueur that’ll be ready in a few short months (and early tastes have been very, very promising) and I’ve made a couple pies as well. It seems I can’t get quite enough of them. I’ve even fancied myself the sour cherry connoisseur: when a (rather gruff) farmer declared last Sunday at the market that no one could taste her sour cherries because they’re too tart to eat raw, I happily (and loudly) piped up that I eat them raw all the time and had no idea what she was talking about. As you may have guessed, we made fast friends. Needless to say, I scurried right along to the next stand.
After two juicy, bursting weeks of our very short sour cherry season, I’m still high on the cherries, but less excited at the prospect of another pie-dough endeavor. The result is mighty tasty, but it involves just a few too many minutes hovered over the counter piecing together shards of butter-flour and hoping for a semblance of evenness. This time, with a pound of sour cherries in the fridge and an appetite that was burgeoning by the minute, I opted for the easy route: cherry crisp.
You won’t see any criticism of crisps on this blog, no siree: D&R are HUGE crisp fans. Apple crisp is practically a weekly staple in our house during winter months, and if you don’t blink you can catch one of us — let’s be honest, both of us — picking the buttery oat clusters off the top as we linger with guests over the end of a dinner party. We’re both pretty addicted.
Given the fleeting nature of sour cherry season, I wanted to make a crisp that’d be particularly memorable. Enter Martha Stewart, who had the great idea to include chopped pistachios in the crumble topping. The pistachios add soft, mellow richness that accentuates the sharp, almost shrill tanginess of the sour cherries. It’s a lovely combination.
Since I only had a pound of sour cherries, I added to the mix a couple nectarines that were begging to be used. Their softer texture was a welcome contrast to those pearl-like sour cherries and the crunchy pistachio crumble. I’ll definitely be making this again. That is, if I can get my hands on some sour cherries…
Sour Cherry Pistachio Crisp
adapted from Martha Stewart
• 1 pound pitted fresh or frozen sour cherries
• 3/4 pound nectarines, pitted and roughly chopped
• 1/2 cup chopped unsalted pistachios
• 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose, white whole wheat, or whole wheat pastry flour
• 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
• 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
• 3 tablespoons packed light-brown sugar
• 3/4 cup granulated sugar
• 3 teaspoons cornstarch
• Pinch of ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 375. If using frozen cherries (though I don’t know why you would this time of year), spread them in a single layer on a baking sheet and let stand at room temperature until almost thawed but not mushy, about half an hour. Drain and reserve any accumulated liquid (you can reduce it for a sauce some other time — too precious to throw away!)
2. Mix pistachios, flour, oats, baking powder, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a medium mixing bowl and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix butter, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup sugar on medium speed until creamy.
3. Add pistachio mixture into butter mixture and mix on medium speed for about ten seconds, until mixture forms small and large crumbs. Set aside.
4. Stir together cherries, the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt in a medium bowl until cornstarch coats cherries and sugar has been incorporated. Pour into an 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle crumb topping onto cherry mixture, and bake until topping turns golden and cherry juices bubble, about 50 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving (Martha recommends an hour, but who can wait that long?) Serve with vanilla ice cream if you have on hand — it’s a whole other ballgame with the creamy vanilla on top.