Baked Sunday Mornings: Cherry Almond Crisp

This week's Baked Sunday Mornings recipe is Cherry Almond Crisp, in honor of Washington's birthday and Presidents' Day. (Get the reference? "I cannot tell a lie" about chopping down a cherry tree?) I love cherries and I love almonds, but I don't love making a cherry crisp in February -- which is as far away from cherry season as you can get. In an ideal world, I would make cherry crisp in the middle of summer with fresh tart cherries. But I had to use frozen sweet cherries instead (I've never been able to find frozen tart cherries).

The recipe is easy. You make the topping by pulsing flour, sugar, light brown sugar, salt, cold butter, almond extract, toasted almonds, and cereal in the food processor. Fruity Pebbles was specifically listed as a cereal option, and I happened to have some on hand (Fruity Pebbles are now my go-to cereal for compost cookies, so it's not uncommon for us to have a box sitting around). My topping was a huge pile of fine crumbs flecked with pieces of almonds and the rainbow colors of crushed Fruity Pebbles. The texture didn't seem right at all.

The fruit filling for the crisp is a mixture of cherries (I did thaw and drain my fruit first), lemon juice, lemon zest, instant tapioca, sugar, and almond extract. I put the fruit into a buttered dish and poured over the topping mixture. I had what seemed to be a ridiculous amount of topping; the thick layer completely hid all of the cherries.
I put the crisp in the oven and after 35 minutes the top was golden -- but the topping layer was basically solid and still obscuring all of the fruit. However, I could hear the fruit bubbling underneath the topping shell, so I figured it was done.

We tried this crisp warm with vanilla ice cream. I didn't care for it. The frozen cherries were not particularly flavorful, and what bothered me most was the overwhelming amount of almond extract (one tablespoon) in the fruit filling. It was like eating almond-flavored cherries. And even though almond is my favorite flavor and I have always loved the combination of almonds and cherries, I thought it was too much -- there was very little cherry flavor in this cherry crisp.

I did like the topping -- especially the crunch from the pieces of almonds -- even though it was a bit on the sweet side. Overall I found this dessert very disappointing. I doubt I would ever made it again, but if I did, I would wait until summer, use fresh tart cherries, reduce the amount of almond extract in the filling, and probably blend the topping together by hand (except for chopping the almonds) to hopefully get clumps of crumbs. I cannot tell a lie -- this crisp was underwhelming.

Recipe: "Cherry Almond Crisp" from Baked Occasions by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, recipe available here at Baked Sunday Mornings.


Louise said…
Based on your photo, I was ready to bake this with sour cherries I pitted, sugared, and froze last summer. But reading your review, I think I'll save them to make a pie. Our local Mennonite bulk store sells frozen sour cherries which are pretty good.
Anonymous said…
I think it's safe to say we all felt the same about the pathetic winter cherries! I too would like this much better in about 4-5 months. I do however recommend trying granola in your topping for a chunkier texture-- I used Double Chocolate Chunk granola and it was awesome. As for the almond extract, I can't stand the stuff, so I subbed vanilla entirely, which was lovely. I'd love to make this again as a group in the summer-- that would be an interesting experiment... :) I am really sad I didn't make these. I did make the ginger snaps..a month late. Better late than never.
Chelly said…
I will have to remember that about the almond extract when I go to make this. I thought it would be so good I love cherries and almonds together. Gotta love the Fruity Pebbles! Looks great!