In an attempt to win the battle of the cherry trees, I am putting up as much of the fruit as I can as fast as I can. Last year, the birds were the decisive victors, arriving like the Blitzkrieg while I was at work and decimating the crop. I cried. A lot. This year, we are going with the net approach combined with a frequent harvesting technique. Although the birds still manage to peck through, fly under and shake off a good chunk of the berries I am willing to accept a stalemate in the name of supporting the ecosystem. As long as I get enough to make cherry filling to sit in little jars, like crimson jewels, in the basement waiting to brighten up a dreary February pound cake. Or crumble. —Niknud
1/2 to 1 teaspoons
unsalted butter, cut into pieces and chilled
pecan pieces (optional but recommended)
good quality bittersweet chocolate in 1/2 oz pieces
Preheat oven to 375. In a medium bowl, stir together the first 6 ingredients until well combined. Cut in the chilled butter until the crumble is the consistency of slightly damp sand (fingers are fine here). Stir in the pecan pieces if using.
Place one of the pieces of chocolate in the bottom of a small oven-proof container (like a ramekin or custard bowl). Cover with cherry filling and top with the crumble mixture. If you so desire, you may sprinkle a bit more brown sugar and a teeny pinch of salt. Repeat until all your ramekins are filled. Bake for 20-30 minutes on a baking tray or until the delicious cherry filling starts to bubble up through the topping. Cool and enjoy.
Note: the proper filling-to-topping ratio has never adequately been established in existing literature. Traditionalists typically go with a 2/3 to 1/3 filling-topping breakdown or less. Being a non-apologetic crumble enthusiast, I am more likely to go with a half and half approach. But I have been know to be a rabble-rouser and a bit of a subversive. Let your conscience be your guide.
Heat cherries and water in a wide saute pan until boiling. Add lemon juice and sugar and boil gently, stirring and mooshing the cherries until the mixture thickens a bit (about 25-30 minutes). Cool slightly.
Whatever leftovers you have after making your crumbles should be used in the following: added to the bottom of a gin and tonic, poured over a brownie, poured over ice cream, mixed with seltzer and lime juice for a cherry-lime rickey.
Full-time working wife and mother of two small boys whose obsessive need to cook delicious food is threatening to take over what little free time I have. I grew up in a family of serious cookers but didn't learn to cook myself until I got married and got out of the military and discovered the joys of micro-graters, ethiopian food, immersion blenders and watching my husband roll around on the floor after four servings of pulled pork tamales (with real lard!) complaining that he's so full he can't feel his legs. Trying to graduate from novice cooker to ranked amateur. The days of 'the biscuit incident of aught five' as my husband refers to it are long past but I still haven't tried my hand at paella so I'm a work in progress!