Cherry season is fleeting so let’s take advantage of it and make some mini baked cherry crisps. Cherries are often cloaked in a buttery double crust and baked to bubbling perfection. But who has time to wait for pie?! Let’s do a crisp instead. Crisp topping is essentially streusel. And as we all know, streusel makes nearly everything better.
Pecans are a go-to in this topping because they have such a delightful little crunch and marry well with the brown sugar in the topping. You’ll love the sweet, nutty crunch with every bite of juicy fruit. The cherries, especially if they are ripe off the tree, will have enough flavor on their own. They just need the teensiest amount of flavor boosters in the form of fresh lemon juice (to brighten), and vanilla and almond extracts (to ever-so-slightly enhance the cherry flavor). You can also add a little cornstarch to help thicken the juices. A little sugar helps too, but you can certainly leave the sugar out of the filling. The topping is perfectly sweet.
You’ve probably noticed that these mini cherry crisps were baked in canning jars. First, they are so adorable. Second, they are perfect for holding all the fruit and topping without spilling over, and there’s still room for ice cream on top. And third, they are heat safe and most people have them in some form, so no special baking dishes needed. (short pint jars were used here, but the regular ones work great too.)
As the crisps bake, they will lose volume, so don’t be tempted to use less fruit or topping. Trust the recipe — this is perfect ratio of fruit to topping.
Last thing: if cherries aren’t your thing, of if you can’t find them where you live, or you just want to use something else, just about any fruit will work here. Try strawberry-rhubarb, peach, mango, apricot, berry, pear, and apple. Or a combination of several fruits.
Tuck this recipe away when you have some time to kill and want a fruit dessert that is homey and utterly delicious.
P.S. — If you’re curious, cobblers and crisps are basically the same except a crisp contains oats. Cobblers are topped with biscuit or a short crust/pie crust.
Mini Baked Cherry Crisp
2 cups fresh or frozen cherries, pitted
2-4 tablespoons granulated sugar (depending on preference)
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Pinch sea salt
1/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons butter, chilled
1/4 cup chopped pecans or sliced almonds
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Have ready two pint (500ml) mason jars and a baking sheet. (The short, wide jars are awesome, but taller ones can work too. Or use single serving casserole dishes.)
2. In a bowl stir together the cherries, sugar, and cornstarch. Add the lemon juice and extracts. Set aside for 10-15 minutes to allow cherries to start releasing their natural juices.
3. In the meantime, prepare the topping. Stir together oats, flour, brown sugar, and salt. Add the cold butter and work it into the dry ingredients until crumbly. Stir in the chopped nuts.
4. Prepare the crisps by dividing the cherries and any accumulated juices between the two jars. Divide the topping between the two jars. Place both jars on the baking sheet, cover tightly with foil, and bake for 30 minutes.
5. Remove the foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes to crisp up the top. Depending on the ripeness of the fruit, the baking time may vary a bit. If the crisps are bubbling all over and in the center, they should be cooked through.
5. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Serve warm or room temperature with a scoop of ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream.
– To make this gluten-free, use gluten-free certified rolled oats and replace flour with almond meal/flour.
– To make non-dairy/vegan, use cold coconut oil or non-dairy butter in place of butter.
– Coconut sugar can be substituted for the white and brown sugar in the filling and topping, as can maple syrup. If using maple syrup, combine the dry ingredients in a bowl. Melt the butter (or butter alternative) and add the maple syrup, then add to the dry ingredients and stir until damp and sandy in texture.
Recipe and images by Lindsey Rose Johnson for Design Mom.