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May 31, 2013 / theyellowbungalowla

special delivery…cherry crumble!

I’m not the only one who thinks cherry season is something to celebrate. Recently my friend Sherie surprised me with a homemade cherry crumble…and delivered it to me at the farmers market to boot!

We have been talking a lot about cherries lately, and for good reason: fresh cherries are a special treat. Aside from just popping them in your mouth for a sweet snack, there are countless other ways to enjoy them. Recently I posted a yummy breakfast creation with cherries and chia seeds. I also shared a twist on a favorite afternoon snack where I combined cherries with nutella and challah. And then of course there were the cherry biscuits. Sherie’s unexpected…but most welcome…food gift is yet another way to get your cherry fix: juicy fruit topped with buttery sweet crumbles and baked until warm and crunchy.

When I head to the kitchen to assemble a fruit crumble, the same ingredients serve as a base for the topping: butter, flour, and brown sugar. Then I add in a couple items that take a crumble to another level: almonds and thick-cut oats. I love the nutty crunch that almonds add to the buttery topping, and in general, almonds compliment almost any fruit you would bake in a crumble: berries, peaches, apples, etc. Oatmeal is another favorite add-in because it adds a nice texture and also contributes to the crunch factor that compliments the soft, baked fruit.

That is, until now. Sherie’s crumble was different: more buttery, with a deep nutty flavor but with no sign of visible nuts. I took one bite, the crunchy topping melting into the delicious fruit. I took another bite but still couldn’t put my finger on it. Finally I gave in and asked her. “It tastes…” I began, but she cut me off. “Nutty?” she said, with a mischievous grin, teasing me because she had fooled me. And she knew it was crazy good. “Yes, but what did you use?,” I asked.

“Pine nuts” was her reply.

I never thought to add pine nuts to a fruit crumble but it makes perfect sense. Their high fat-content makes the topping even richer and more buttery, and their nutty flavor adds depth. Pine nuts are commonly used in Italian desserts, often cookies, and in this crumble, they added a deep richness that was nothing short of amazing.

What made this crumble extra special, though, even better than adding interesting nuts or more butter or some exotic ingredient, is the time and care and love that went into creating it. The gesture made my day. It’s a rare treat to receive a homemade gift, and as I removed the top and slid it into the oven, I couldn’t help but feel grateful to have such a thoughtful friend. The aroma of sweet fruit, nuts, and butter that filled the bungalow was intoxicating, and I could barely wait for it to cool down before digging in. We scooped the warm, messy goodness into pretty dessert bowls and topped each with a scoop of creamy vanilla ice cream.

An incredible treat, indeed.

I hope you too have a friend like Sherie. Or even better, make a fruit crumble, split it in two, and share the other half with an unsuspecting recipient. I promise they will appreciate it more than you know.

sher's cherry crumble

Sherie Farah is a chef based here in Los Angeles.

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