In late May and throughout June, I keep an eye out for organic, fresh cherries. Conventionally-grown cherries will make appearances around town, but organic ones seem to be harder to find. I started asking around about them since I was sure I must have darted right by them without noticing at some point. Then, as if they knew I was starting to panic, a few days later, Whole Foods announced a one-day, organic cherry sale. I got to the store as early in the day as I could and loaded several pounds of cherries into my shopping cart. I tell you all of this to explain the many, cherry-filled dishes that will be showing up around here starting with this one. These individual cherry lambic crisps were shown in the June issue of Food and Wine, and that issue was full of recipes made with beer. In this case, a cherry lambic was mixed with the fruit for the base of the crisp, and dried sour cherries were added to the fresh, sweet, dark cherries. I was intrigued.
So, a combination of cherry beer, fresh and dried cherries, honey, and seeds from a vanilla bean was mixed and left to sit for 30 minutes. The dried sour cherries plumped, and juices from the fresh cherries mixed with the honey and beer. The fruit mixture was divided between six ramekins. The crisp topping was fairly standard with sugar, flour, chopped almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cardamom. Orange zest was to have been added, but I used lemon zest instead. Melted butter was stirred into that mixture, and it was pressed by hand to form clumps as it was added to the top of each ramekin with fruit. The crisps baked for about 30 minutes to a bubbly and golden state.
The crisps tasted like cherries rather than beer, but then, the taste of cherry lambic itself is more of cherries than of beer. The chewy, dried sour cherries added a nice contrast to the sweet, fresh ones, and the topping's buttery crunch was made even better by the addition of chopped almonds and spices. I would definitely make this again with the exact same ingredients, but I think a version with wine-soaked fruit might be interesting too.