Individual Cherry Crumbles (and a new go-to crumble topping recipe)

18 07 2009

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Last week I inadvertently saddled myself with a $15.00 bag of cherries. I know, I know. They were on sale and the per-pound price seemed like such a good deal, but I didn’t realize how heavy cherries really are. I was in a rush, I didn’t weigh them, and then I nearly had an apoplectic attack when I looked at my receipt. Egad.

Fortunately, a $15.00 bag of on-sale cherries is a LOT of fruit, so I think I got my money’s worth; but finishing off the bag was a pretty intimidating task. Honestly, I was a little oppressed. ALL THOSE CHERRIES. The thrill of cherry-pit-spitting contests wore off fast, leaving me with a pile of cherries the size of my head to plow through. We pecked away at them throughout the week – a fistful here, a few there – and made a pretty good dent in them. But by Thursday I started to worry that the remaining lump was going to go bad, and the thought of food going bad always hearkens me back to a little chant from my childhood: Christie is a food waster, food waster, food waster, Christie is a food waster, KICK HER TIL SHE BLEEDS! OMG, right? Terrible. I think it came from summer camp, and don’t worry, it was never actually directed at me, someone else’s name was usually inserted where mine is, but I never, ever wanted to be the subject of this chant. And what a terrible image it conjures. I’m haunted by it. 

So I wanted to use all the cherries at once, before they could go bad and before a ghost from my past could come ’round chanting and kicking at me. So I thought, “what’s more summery than a crumble?” Well, a few things, I suppose, but a crumble seemed easy and quick, not too heavy, and a great excuse to use my $3.68 toaster oven. The only problem: a good crumble recipe I lacked. 

I’ve searched and searched for a go-to crumble topping recipe. I usually just end up winging it – a little more flour, oops, too much sugar, maybe I’ll toss in some oatmeal this time! I’ve never had a total disaster this way, but sometimes my crumbles weren’t totally fabulous. 

I wanted something easy to remember, a recipe broken down into parts rather than specific measurements. I decided to start w/ equal parts of ingredients, and go from there. Incredibly, I think it really worked perfectly the first time. I used one part butter, one part flour, one part brown sugar, and one part oatmeal. It made a topping that was decadently buttery, crisp and crumbly, all at once – PERFECT, really! Buttery, in fact, might be the key word here. Too much butter, you say? BAH! Just don’t go eating these every day, be sure to get some exercise, and only eat them after a big salad or something, and you’ll be fine. 

The crumble topping recipe is easily expanded to cover a larger surface area of fruit, if you’re not into the tiny dessert thing like I am.

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Individual Fruit Crumbles (serves 2)

Filling

1 1/2 – 2 cups sliced fruit of your choice (cherries in this case)

Topping

3 Tbs butter

3 Tbs flour

3 Tbs part uncooked oatmeal

3 Tbs brown sugar

dash of salt

Preheat thrift-store-find toaster oven to 350.

Divide sliced fruit into two ramekins or small oven-proof dishes. Some people like to add some sugar, dabs of butter, and some cornstarch or flour, but I say keep it simple! Besides, did you SEE the amount of butter and sugar called for in the topping recipe?

Combine topping ingredients in a medium bowl and mash together using a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. That’s what they always say, right? Pea-sized nubbins of goodness is what you’re going for.

Divide topping over fruit-filled ramekins and bake for 15 minutes or so at 350 degrees, or until topping is browned and filling is a little bubbly. Let cool at least somewhat before serving. Exercise vigorously for at least 45 minutes sometime after consuming.

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