Vanilla Cherry Pie with Almond Crumb Topping

I love pie during the winter.   There is nothing more pleasing than being curled up by the fire place, mug of tea in hand, reading a good book and smelling the warm spiciness of an apple or pumpkin pie wafting through the house.

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On the other hand, pie makes the perfect summer dessert and is a great accompaniment to BBQs and cookouts.

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Who am I kidding?   I love pie anytime.

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Even better with vanilla-bean!

Here is a pie for all seasons.

Vanilla Cherry Pie with Almond Crumb Topping.
based on Cherry-Bourbon Pie (Bon Appétit , August 2012)

For topping:
1/2 c. old-fashioned oats
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 c. brown sugar
1/2 t. coarse sea salt
1/4 c. chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2″ pieces
1/4 c. sliced almonds

For pie:
1 –  9” pie crust, uncooked
6 c. frozen dark sweet cherries, thawed
1/4 c. sugar
1/4 c. Licor 43
3 T. cornstarch
2 T. lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 T.  finely grated lemon zest

Make topping:
In a medium bowl, whisk together oats, flour, brown sugar and salt.   Rub butter into oat mixture with your fingertips until it’s completely incorporated. Toss in almonds.     Chill until ready to top pie.

For pie:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

Combine cherries and remaining 5 ingredients in a large bowl. Using a rubber spatula, gently mix until cherries are coated and mixture is evenly distributed.

Pour cherries into pie crust and top evenly with crumble.

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Get a load of the size of these cherries!

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Get a load of this crumb topping.

Bake until pie crust and center of crumble are deep golden brown and juices from cherries are bubbling and look thickened, 1 1/4–1 1/2 hours. Let pie cool for at least 2 hours at room temperature to allow filling to set properly. (Cutting into the pie before it’s set will result in a runny filling.) Cover and let stand up to 1 day at room temperature.  (Who am I kidding?   This pie doesn’t have a chance of lasting one day on the counter.)

Note:  If you use another type of cherry, you probably will want to increase the amount of sugar in the pie to as much as 3/4 cup.


Some good tips and ideas when making this recipe:

  • When making the topping, if butter begins to soften while mixing, chill mixture to firm it up, about 15 minutes.  Cold butter ensures a flaky, tender topping.
  • You can cover and chill crumble up to five days ahead.
  • When baking pie, line a rimmed baking sheet with foil; lightly coat with nonstick spray (for easy cleanup in case the pie bubbles over).   I usually use my ratty old silpat and save on the foil.
  • Buy organic lemons (which on this trip to the store were cheaper than the non-organic ones) for zesting.   (Still scrub them good.)
  • Warm lemons will juice easier than refrigerated ones.    Leave them out at room temperature for a while or even zap them in the microwave for a few seconds.  This really does make a difference.   (I have forgotten where I read this.)
  • The original recipe called for bourbon, but having none, I knew Licor 43 would be a great choice for a substitute.   I also think Amaretto and even spiced rum would make a good pie.   If you want to make this a virgin dessert, just add one teaspoon of vanilla and leave out the Licor 43.
  •  And, the most important safety tip:  make this pie well ahead of time so you can hide it and let it set for a day.  Otherwise, you will not be able to help yourself and you will eat a runny pie.

(Some of these tips came from here.   Some I have just learned over the years.   I definitely have to give a shout-out to Heather for turning me on to Licor 43!  If I learned one of the above tips from you and have failed to remember, please leave me a kind and gentle comment below to remind me.)

Our source for fabulous dark sweet cherries is Bithell Farms.   I have mentioned them so often regarding their wonderful frozen fruit like these cherries and blueberries that one would think I deserve a free crate.   Are you listening, Bithell?   (Seriously, their fruit is top notch.)

For some more fabulous recipes using these marvelous dark sweet cherries, click here.

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