With summer approaching, there’s a veritable plethora of delicious fruits & vegetables that are just begging to be picked, cooked, and eaten. Fortunately for me, one of the managers at work has a black cherry tree that is bursting with cherries that truly are begging to be picked & eaten, and I’ve been the lucky recipient of some amazingly sweet, juicy ones. I’ve been eating them like crazy and simply cannot get enough! However, halfway through one of the giant bags he’d given me I realized that I was missing out on some great recipe opportunities, so I figured I should probably slow down on the cherry consumption. When you have fresh, tree-ripened fruit at your disposal, it’s definitely time to start cooking! From juices to desserts, one can make a great variety of foods and it seemed a crime not to put these cherries to good use. Especially since they were free.
I’m trying to do more with seasonal produce, since it just makes sense and is actually another good way to save money. Mother Nature really does make things easy for us when it comes to food: eat what is currently growing and you’ll never run out of tasty options. Plus, there’s no need to be paying more for things that aren’t available. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t eat anything that’s not seasonal; it’s just one more way to help cut costs a little, and you can enjoy things like cherry season or citrus season just a little bit more.
Another fruit that’s starting to come into its season is the lovely apricot. It’s a little early for most trees, but some of them in this area are just excited and producing some deliciously sweet apricots. I thought it would be fun to combine the two in a dessert and played around with several different ideas before I settled on an easy little fruit crisp with a simple, yet tasty streusel. I haven’t had a fruit crisp in ages, so I definitely let my craving decide this dessert recipe. There’s not much to it, really: just some great fruit and a little patience. In terms of the streusel topping, I used almonds in mine, as that was the only nut I had at my disposal, but this would also taste lovely with some walnuts or pecans. As for the fruit, if you don’t have access to fresh cherries, you can definitely use frozen ones; just be sure not to thaw them beforehand, so you don’t end up with a mushy result at the end. I made mine in these adorable little ramekins my mom got me, since I like little desserts and have always been a fan of individual portions (must be an only-child thing). However, if you don’t have ramekins, you can bake this in a square glass baking dish instead. Lastly, though it’s not pictured, you can certainly serve this with some French vanilla ice cream or some fresh whipped cream! If I’d had some, I would have definitely added a large dollop of either. Or both.
Black Cherry & Apricot Crisp (serves 4; total cost per serving ~$1.85*)
3/4 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1 T nutmeg
1 stick of butter (room temperature), cut into small pieces
1 lb sweet cherries, pitted
1 lb apricots, pitted & chopped into 1″ pieces
1/3 c sugar
3 T butter
Juice of 1 lemon
Preheat the oven to 375°. Prepare the streusel by whisking together the first 3 ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the butter pieces and mix with a fork until crumbly. Set aside.
In a large skillet, combine the butter, sugar, and lemon juice and heat over medium high heat until the sugar has dissolved completely. Reduce heat to medium and add the cherries. Cook for 3-4 minutes, until the cherries have begun to soften and release some of their juice. Remove from heat. Combine the apricots with the cherry mixture in a large bowl and mix gently.
Lightly grease the ramekins. I like a lot of streusel, so I added a bit on the bottom of each ramekin first. Add a couple large spoonfuls of the fruit mixture until each dish is full. Sprinkle extra streusel on top and place in the oven. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the fruit is bubbly and the streusel has browned. Cool for a few minutes, add a scoop of ice cream or some whipped cream, and enjoy!
*Note: the price includes the cost of cherries at the store, since not everyone has the chance to have free ones!