Summer Series: Cherry Crisp

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Have you ever wondered what the difference was between a cobbler, a crisp and a crumble? It often seems that these terms are used to refer to any baked fruit dessert with a topping, but there are very distinct differences between the three. A cobbler is cooked fruit topped with biscuits or batter and baked, while a crisp is cooked fruit that is topped with a mixture of oats, flour butter and nuts before baking. Finally, a crumble is a topping of butter, sugar, flour and spices that is piled onto fresh fruit before baking. Of the three, my favorite is the crumble.

Crumbles are best served warm with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, and while they aren’t popular in the summertime, my favorite crumble is made with fresh cherries, which are only available from mid-May until the end of June.

I’m not sure if making a crumble in the summertime violates any culinary rule in the way that wearing white after Labor Day used to rock the fashion world, and even if it were a violation, I happily be a rule breaker. Cherry crumble is simply one of the best desserts and definitely should have a place on the list of Top Ten Desserts. Don’t believe me? Give this simple (well, after you pit the cherries) recipe a try—you’ll be a convert.

Cherry Crumble

2 pounds fresh cherries, pitted
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 stick cold butter
1 teaspoon of salt

1. Mix together cherries, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon zest, 2 tablespoons of flour and vanilla extract.

2. Spread fruit mixture into a rimmed baking dish.

3. In a food processor, combine flour, brown sugar, butter and salt until mixture is crumbly.

4. Pour crumb mixture onto fruit mixture and spread evenly; gently press crumbs down onto the fruit.

5. Bake at 350º until fruit is bubbly and topping is golden brown.

6. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.