A slice of fresh cherry pie that is freshly baked is just about irresistible – especially when you were the one baking it and your kitchen still smells like home-baked pie. Cherry cobbler and cherry crisp are right up there, too, when it comes to tempting cherry desserts. They’re easier to make and they’re always available when they’re hot from the oven (while cherry pies typically need to cool for the filling to thicken).
These Cinnamon Streusel-Topped Cherry Crisps are individual desserts that pack a whole lot of cherry flavor into a very small package. Juicy cherries make up the main part of the dessert, of course, but a crisp and buttery streusel topping is what makes it a winner for me. The topping is made with oatmeal, ground cinnamon and brown sugar, with some chopped pecans tossed in for extra crunch and flavor. A pinch of salt adds just the right amount of contrast to the topping, so you can really taste every element alongside those cherries. Almonds would also work very well in the streusel, as they tend to be a great match with cherries.
Cherries are a fruit that are typically in season late in the spring and summer, but they keep very well and I have them in my kitchen all year round. I keep frozen cherries in the freezer and jars of good-quality cherries (packed in cherry juice) in the pantry for any occasion that I might need them for. They both work just as well as fresh cherries will – and since they seem to release a little more juice than fresh cherries, you can even end up with a slightly saucier cherry crisp. Any kind of cherries will work, from sour cherries to black cherries. I personally tend to go with the sweeter black cherries, but a mix of different types will produce an outstanding dessert.
I like these best when they’re fresh from the oven, but they keep very well and leftovers are terrific for breakfast. I heat up my leftovers for a few seconds in the microwave to warm them up again before re-serving.
Cinnamon Streusel-Topped Cherry Crisps
approx 3 cups cherries, fresh or frozen
2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cup + 1 tbsp all purpose flour, divided
1/2 cup quick cooking oatmeal (not instant)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 cup butter, chilled and cut into 6-8 pieces
1/4 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 400F.
Place cherriees in a medium bowl with 2 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp all purpose flour. Toss to coat. If using frozen cherries, do not defrost. If using jarred cherries, drain well before using.
Divide cherry mixture into six 8-oz ramekins.
In a large bowl, stir together flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt. Add all of the pieces of butter and rub into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture is very sandy and coarse. No pieces of butter larger than a small pea should remain. This can also be done in a food processor.
Stir in pecans. Take small handfuls of the mixture in the palm of your hand and squeeze gently to create some clumps.
Divide streusel mixture evenly on top of the pears.
Place all ramekins on a baking sheet.
Bake for 18-20 minutes, until streusel is golden.
Allow to cool slightly before serving.