The fertile orchards in the Columbia Gorge of Oregon produce some of the best cherries in the world. Sweet. Firm. Massive. Some summer weeks, they are over-flowing at every Farmer’s Market and Oregonians enjoy our favorite cherries and sample “new” heirloom varieties growers are bringing back.

1½ to 2 pounds sweet, dark cherries
1 Tablespoon Amaretto (almond liqueur), optional
2 teaspoons cornstarch
3 Tablespoons sugar
pinch of salt

TOPPING:
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
½ cup rolled oats
¼ cup all-purpose white flour
pinch salt
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon (just a dash) ground cinnamon
½ cup sliced almonds

Wash, stem and pit the cherries. Slice each in half. (You should have four to five cups.) Sprinkle the Amaretto over the cherries and stir. Mix  the cornstarch, sugar and a pinch of salt in a large bowl, add the cherries and toss to evenly coat. Leave the cherries to macerate while you prepare the topping.

Melt the butter in a small bowl in the microwave. Stir in the rolled oats until the butter has been absorbed. Add the flour, salt, sugar cinnamon, and almonds; stir until well combined. The topping will resemble granola – it will be chunky, not smooth.

Spread the fruit evenly into the bottom of a buttered 8x8-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the topping evenly over the cherries. Bake at 350° for 40-45 minutes, or until the fruit is bubbling at the sides and beginning to bubble through the center and the topping just begins to brown. Let rest about ten minutes before serving. This cherry crisp is best served just-warm. (Of course, vanilla ice-cream would be an excellent accompaniment.) Serves six.

Just out of the oven – Cherry Almond Crisp

NOTES: A cherry stoner is very useful tool if you enjoying baking with cherries. A cherry stoner (or cherry pitter) operates much like a stapler. A center dowel pushes the stone out through the bottom of the fruit. In this recipe, I recommend slicing the cherries in half after removing the stone. The baked cherries will be juicier and occasionally, especially if the fruit is soft, a pit can remain… and well, that could just be a painful dental emergency.

Also, be sure to wear an apron – and not your favorite white shirt while pitting cherries! This cherry crisp goes together easily – but due to the mess of pitting cherries, I would not advise this recipe for the RV kitchen. However, the recipe lends itself easily as a do-ahead dessert. Prepare the cherries and toss them with the sugar/cornstarch mixture. Prepare the topping. Place each layer in a zip-top bag, refrigerate, and put the dessert together just before baking in the RV oven. If you don’t have Amaretto, substitute Chambord, brandy or a teaspoon of vanilla.

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