Dinner Party Dessert: Cherry Lambic Crisps

I have to admit I am attracted to strange things.

I was obsessed with this dessert after reading about it in the June issue of Food & Wine magazine. I had to get my hands on some cherries.

My mouth watered when I looked at the magazine photo and I loved the sound of macerating cherries in Belgian cherry beer then making a crumb topping to turn out the best fruit crisp I have ever eaten.

The recipe is from the chef at Vaandaag Restaurant in NYC, where the chef uses a lot of beer in his cooking and most of the things on the menu are unusual and of Dutch origin.

The reason I say this is a "Dinner Party Dessert" is that it seems like it's too special just for a weeknight (though we ate it on a regular Wed. night!), and it is time consuming. It makes 4 small gratin dish size portions (though the recipe said it makes 6), so it would be nice to have company to share such a beautiful thing with.

I gathered my ingredients. Bought dried cherries at Trader Joe's. Bought a bottle of strange Lambic Cherry Beer from Belgium (what am I going to do with the rest of the bottle?, the recipe only calls for 1/2 cup), and I found some early cherries at my produce market.

I was in business.

This was worth the time and ingredients, the smell of the cherries and the strange black cherry beer was amazing, and the taste was delicious and unique.

Are you sold yet?

Cherry Lambic Crisps: (adapted from Food & Wine & Vaandaag Restaurant in NYC)

1 1/2 pounds dark cherries, pitted
1 1/2 cups dried sour cherries (about 8 ounces)
1/2 cup Kriek lambic beer
2 tablespoons honey
1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus more for greasing
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup almonds, coarsely chopped (about 1 ounce)
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Pinch of nutmeg
Pinch of ground cardamom

In a bowl, mix the pitted and dried cherries, beer, honey, vanilla and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Let stand for 30 minutes so the cherries are macerated in the liquid.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375°. Butter four 8-ounce ramekins and set them on a rimmed baking sheet.

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, orange zest, nutmeg and cardamom. Stir in the melted butter. Press the topping into clumps.

Spoon the cherry filling into the ramekins and sprinkle with the topping. Bake for about 30 minutes, until browned and bubbling. Serve the crisps warm or at room temperature.

No ice cream needed.

note* The second time I made these (using up the rest of the Lambic beer!), I bumped it up a bit by using more cherries and more almonds. I also substituted raisins for the dried cherries since I ran out. I liked it even better the 2nd time around.


Stacey, Washington State is banking on a bumper crop of cherries this summer and my trees are eager to oblige this prediction it seems.

So this recipe is most timely and appreciated. Another winner my talented friend. TC
Joanne said…
I LOVE this! You and I were definitely thinking along the same lines...except you amped it up by a TON.
Dana said…
Almost sold. I LOVE cherries and we get incredible ones but I do not like cherry desserts. Another thing that makes me weird, I know. But I do like beer and crispy type things and, yes, really almost sold.
Ginny Lee said…
no cherries in our farmer's markets in TX but peaches are in...wonder if it would be good with peaches? and what is this left over beer you speak of? we never have that in my house ;)
Ellen (SIL) said…
Ill bet this would be even BETTER if you had some fresh sour cherries instead of the sweet...But Ill probably make it anyway.. I LOVE cherries..
The JR said…
Fresh cherries are one of my favorites.
Lambic beer huh? That's a new one for me!
Oui, Chef said…
Cherries and beer....who woulda thunk it? You really don't need us to tell you what to do with the rest of the beer, do you? - S
Lori Lynn said…
That recipe in F&W caught my eye too. Glad to see you made it!
Anonymous said…
"Bought a bottle of strange Lambic Cherry Beer from Belgium (what am I going to do with the rest of the bottle?, the recipe only calls for 1/2 cup)"

Drink it, old girl! Do you realize how many years and how much labor goes into a Kriek like this? And the one you bought is fabulous.