That’s right, the farmers’ markets are back in town. There are few things that signal the arrival of summer as clearly as a visit to the farmers’ market. It’s hot and crowded, but you almost don’t notice as you stroll along all of the colorful locally grown produced while snacking on a juicy strawberry – or in this case, a dark red cherry.
I recently took a walk through the farmers’ market held every Wednesday at Cesar Chavez Park on my lunch break. After making my way about half way through the market, I stumbled upon the first cherries of the season at the Joe Gotelli and Sons stand. The only thing they were selling was cherries, so you know they had to be good. For only $4.00 a pound, I just couldn’t pass them up. After chatting with the woman who rung me up for my pound and a half of cherries, I found out that Joe Gotelli and Sons’ cherries are grown in nearby areas like Stockton, Linden and Lodi. Who would have thought that my bag of cherries would have multiple farms of origin?!
With my bag of cherries in hand, I started thinking of all of the delicious desserts I could make. I envisioned whipping up a French classic such as clafouti, but then I realized that I had never actually had clafouti, so I didn’t know what it should taste like. (After realizing this, I have put it on my summer bucket list to try clafouti.) With a family BBQ right around the corner, I decided to keep it simple so I went for a cherry crumble. After a quick Google search, I ended up making my own recipe on the fly. Plus, I was making this cherry crumble as a dessert for a BBQ where a few family members couldn’t have sugar, so finding a good recipe was difficult.
- 6 tablespoons butter, melted
- 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ rolled oats
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 4 tablespoons Splenda
- 1/8 teaspoons salt
- 4 cups fresh cherries, pitted and coarsely chopped
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup Splenda sugar
- ½ tsp. – 1 tsp. almond extract
- 1 tbs corn starch
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make the filling first. Pit the cherries. It’s best to do this with a cherry pitter, but I’ve heard a bent fork, a bobby-pin and a good old-fashioned knife work as well. Coarsely chop the pitted cherries. Mix cherries, water, Splenda and almond extract in a large skillet, place over medium-low heat. Heat cherries for about 10 to 15 minutes, or until the cherries have soften and their juices are released. Taste mixture to check sweetness, add more Splenda if necessary. Dissolve cornstarch in water and add to cherry mixture. Continue to heat mixture and stir to avoid burning until mixture is slightly thickened. Set aside.
- For the crumble, add melted butter to a medium bowl with flour, rolled oats, brown sugar, Splenda and salt. Mix using a fork until mixture resembles coarse sand.
- Pack two cups of the crumble mixture into the bottom of a greased 9×9 pan. Pour cherry mixture on top. Sprinkle a bit of water on the remaining crumble mixture, just until the mixture sticks together. Dop remaining crumble mixture on top of cherry mixture, using your fingers to break up the crumble.
- Bake for 40-45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Serve warm.
If I do say so myself, this recipe turned out pretty good considering it was my first go-around with it. After trying it on a few different people, they said that they wouldn’t have been able to tell that it was sugar free if it weren’t for the fact that I told them. I know I say its sugar free, but I did use a bit of real brown sugar on accident, so it’s not truly sugar free. When I make this recipe in the future, I will definitely use more butter to make the bottom crust sturdier and flakier. I will also use real sugar and only brown sugar for the stopping to give it that extra richness.
All in all, I’d say that my first trip to the farmers’ market this season was a delight and the resulting dessert was a success. If you haven’t had a chance to make it to one of Sacramento’s many farmers’ markets, do yourself a favor and plan to visit one immediately. You will not be disappointed.