This wonderful recipe made the rounds when it first appeared in 2001 in The Last Course by Claudia Flemming, and it reamins as appealing today as the first time we tried it. We've adapted the recipe by baking it in a single dish as opposed to individual rammekins, but the combination of wine-soaked tart cherries and sweet pears holds true to the original. Fleming cautions us to be sure to bake the crisps until the juices bubble up thickly; otherwise, not enough of the moisture will evaporate and the fruit will be soggy. —molly_stevens
dried sour cherries
Water or fruity red wine, such as a Zinfandel, to cover
The day before you make the crisp, put the cherries in a small saucepan. Add enough water or wine (or a combination) to cover them by 2 inches. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, then turn off the heat and let cool. Let the cherries soak overnight in the refrigerator, or for at least 8 hours, until they are plump and soft. Drain the cherries, reserving the juice.
In a large bowl, combine the pears, drained cherries, and 1/4 cup of the granulated sugar and toss well. Mix in 1/2 cup of the cherry soaking liquid (or whatever cherry soaking liquid is left plus enough water to make 1/2 cup). Let the mixture stand for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/4 cup of granulated sugar, the flour, almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Slowly drizzle in the butter and stir with a fork until the mixture is crumbly and all the flour is incorporated. Do not allow the mixture to come together in a ball. Break up any large crumbs with your fingers. The crumbs should be smaller than 1 inch in size (otherwise they won't cook all the way through).
Spoon the fruit into a 2-quart baking dish. Evenly sprinkle the crumbs on top of the fruit. Bake the crisps until the filling is bubbling and the topping is browned, 45 to 50 minutes. Serve hot or room temperature.
Molly Stevens lives, eats and writes in Northern Vermont. She is the author of two James Beard Award winning cookbooks, All About Roasting and All About Braising. When the spirit moves her, Molly travels around the country teaching cooking classes.