June has only just begun and temperatures here in Central Florida have already been averaging in the mid-90’s (heat index well over 100°) since early May. I enjoy the heat but it makes going outside with the kids for walks or playtime practically impossible unless it is really early or late (but late in the swamp only trades heat for mosquitoes). Seeing as outside play is limited this time of year, other activities need to fill the void. Baking happens to be one of our favorite go-to activities year round but even more so in the hot and rainy summer months.
With the A/C already working overtime to keep us cool I want a recipe that is not too extensive but also screams summer for the days we stay cooped up indoors. Along with cobblers and pies, one of the quintessential desserts served in the summer is a crisp. A crisp is quick, easy, and makes the most out of in season fresh fruit. Sweet cherries are a favorite of mine and happen to currently be in season, making them easily accessible at supermarkets. If you happen to stumble across this recipe when sweet cherries are not in season, you can easily use frozen sweet cherries with the added bonus that they will already be pitted for you.
Although I love sweet cherries on their own, I prefer a balance of tart and sweet flavors in a crisp. For example, when I make apple crisp, I always use a blend of sweet and tart apples. I chose to replicate the same process by using tart dried cherries in addition to fresh sweet cherries. Before burying the cherries under a blend of oats and almonds I add a touch of cinnamon and vanilla to further enhance the flavor.
I prefer to serve this dessert warm and with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt (or ice cream), however it is just as enjoyable at room temperature or after a quick warm up in the microwave. I mean, what is not to love about a simple recipe that takes fresh in season fruit, tosses it together with some pantry staples, and bakes into a summertime stunner beckoning for a scoop of ice cream!
Note: To keep this dessert super simple, use frozen pitted cherries if you do not want to pit them yourself. If you elect to use fresh cherries (recommended) and you do not own a cherry pitter, you can pit the cherries with a straw or pastry tip. Simply insert the straw or pastry tip into the stem end of the cherry and push it through until the pit pops out on its on. This recipe yields one 8 x 8 inch baking dish of crisp. You can easily double the recipe ingredients and bake the crisp in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish to accommodate larger families/crowds.
Easy Cherry-Almond Crisp
- ½ cup dried Tart Cherries
- ½ cup Boiling Water
- 1 pound fresh (or frozen) Sweet Cherries; pitted
- 1/3 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1 ½ tbsp. All-Purpose Flour
- ½ tsp. Vanilla Extract
- 1/8 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
- 3.4 oz. (¾ cup) All-Purpose Flour
- ¾ cup Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats
- ½ cup packed Light Brown Sugar
- ¼ cup Sliced Almonds
- ½ tsp. Salt
- 5 tbsp. Unsalted Butter; melted
- ¼ tsp. Almond Extract
- Combine dried cherries and boiling water in a small bowl (or pan you boiled the water in); cover and let stand 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375°. Coat a 8 x 8 inch glass or ceramic baking dish with cooking spray.
- In a large bowl combine the dried cherries (including the soaking liquid), pitted sweet cherries, sugar, flour, vanilla, and cinnamon; stir well. Let stand for 15 minutes.
- Pour the cherry mixture into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes or until thick and bubbly.
- Meanwhile, combine flour, oats, brown sugar, almonds, and salt in a medium bowl; stir well. Combine butter and almond extract in a small bowl. Drizzle butter mixture over oat mixture, stirring until moist clumps form.
- Remove cherry mixture from oven and sprinkle evenly with streusel topping (you may have extra topping). Bake an additional 20 minutes or until streusel is golden brown. Remove from oven and let stand for 5 minutes. Serve warm on its own or with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt/ice cream.