I have never watched an episode of one of those hoarding shows. I aspire to be neat and organized, but I do not claim to be a domestic perfectionist. While I consider myself to be better than most, the freezer is where things turn into a real jumble. Overripe bananas are tucked into random openings among bags of frozen farmers market produce. My latest discovery was a neglected gallon-sized Ziploc filled with pitted sour cherries from last season. During my market trips the last few weeks, I have desperately wanted to buy a container or two of fresh tart cherries, but there will be no purchases until the freezer stash is gone.
As a kid I loved eating canned cherry pie filling, and ever since I have been a fan of artificial cherry flavor whether a lollipop or red licorice. When I had the revelation that what I thought of as “true cherry” taste was doctored up fresh tart cherries, I was hooked, and that is what I blame for my hoarding tendency when cherries are in season. While I would be perfectly happy with a bowl of these cherries cooked with a little sugar for a juicy, syrupy treat, I decided to top them with an oat and almond crust and baked a sour cherry crumble. Instead of piling everything into one dish, I used ramekins to give everyone at a family dinner their own special dessert.
Sour Cherry Crumble
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup whole almonds, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for greasing ramekins
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sour cherries, fresh or frozen, pitted
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, almonds, salt and cinnamon. Rub the butter into the mixture creating small clumps. Spread the crumble in a single layer on the sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes until it is just starting to brown.
Butter the ramekins. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, vanilla extract and sour cherries. Cook the cherries, stirring occasionally, until they soften and the juice thickens, about 10-15 minutes.
Divide the cherries evenly in the ramekins. Top with the crumble. Bake for 15 minutes until the crumble is golden brown, and the fruit is tender. Cool slightly before serving.