This cherry apple crisp is the crunchiest crisp you'll ever make. Flavored with almonds, coconut, oranges, and spices, it'll soon be your favorite rendition of the classic dessert.
Raise your hand if you ever had an apple crisp that wasn't crispy. It kind of defeats the point, right? If I wanted mushy apples with oats, I'd eat oatmeal.
That's why there's nothing mushy about this crisp recipe. Thanks to a technique I picked up from a recipe in The America's Test Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook, where you start off baking the topping on its own pan, you get the crispiest oat topping possible.
Other reasons why you'll love this recipe:
- There's a balance of sweet and tart thanks to a mix of cherries and apples.
- Orange juice and almonds create a unique and complimentary flavor combo.
- It's easy to make as individual servings or as one large dish.
I use cherries and apples for the fruit in this crisp because I think it keeps things interesting. You get a mix of textures by using two fruits, especially if you leave the apples unpeeled. I think the combo would also be great as a pie filling.
- Cherries - Sweet cherries, the ones you most commonly find in the produce department of grocery stores during the summer, work great here if you don't mind removing the pits and stems first. Sour cherries are also fine if you happen to find those and don't mind the crisp being on the tart side. But if you're short on time, or it's not peak cherry season, there's no problem using frozen cherries. Just add them to the recipe frozen.
- Apples - I suggest using crisp, firm apples that will hold their shape during baking. Some good options include Granny Smith, Northern Spy, Braeburn, Pink Lady, and Honeycrisp. You can certainly use a mix of apple varieties for a blend of flavors and textures. If you don't care whether the apples still have some crunch after baking, and don't mind softness, feel free to use whatever apples you have on hand.
- Shredded coconut - Look for unsweetened coconut flakes instead of the more common sweetened coconut shreds. The sweetened shreds are honestly more like candy with a predominant flavor of sugar. The shreds, like these ones, do a better job of toasting and adding a simple, pure coconut flavor. In this recipe, they also add more crunch to the crunchy topping.
- Oats - You want the regular old-fashioned rolled oats for this recipe. Instant oats or steel-cut oats are not good options here.
- Almond extract - I enjoy the pairing of almond and cherry flavors. That's why I use almond extract in this crisp rather than the typical dessert flavor of vanilla. However, if vanilla is all you have, that will work just fine.
See the recipe card below for quantities and measurements.
📖 Substitutions & Variations
- Almond extract - Vanilla extract also works, of course. But almond and cherry is a terrific flavor combo. Have neither extract? Try a splash of bourbon.
- Gluten-free cherry apple crisp - Use a gluten-free flour blend in place of the all-purpose wheat flour. You may also want to verify that your oats are gluten-free.
- Individual crumbles - Who doesn't like their own personal dessert? Instead of a large baking dish, use small oven-safe dishes and serve everyone their own.
- Other fruits - This recipe would be just as good with other fruits. Try pears in place of the apples and raspberries, blackberries, or blueberries in place of the cherries.
Let's get baking.
Combine flour, oats, coconut, salt, and extract in a bowl. Stir or whisk together.
Add the butter and use your hands to work into the dry ingredients until you have a rough-looking dough.
It should look something like this. No need to be exact or perfect.
Then dump this out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Core and chop the apples. You don't need to peel them first unless you prefer to do so.
Combine the fruits in a large bowl, then toss with the sugar, salt, and spices.
Whisk the orange juice with the cornstarch. Then toss this with the fruit.
Pour the fruit into a square baking dish, or into individual oven-safe dishes like these. Bake the topping in the middle of the oven and the fruit on the bottom for 20 minutes.
Take both the topping and filling out of the oven. Break the crumble into pieces and spread over the crisp filling.
Return the crisp to the oven and continue baking for another 15-20 minutes.
Hint: Keep an eye on the topping in the last few minutes of baking. When I baked mine, it started to quickly brown in the last few minutes. If this happens to you, just throw a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the baking sheet or dish.
You can store this apple and cherry crumble for about three days in the fridge. Keep loosely covered, not tightly covered, to prevent moisture from building up on top of the crisp and making the topping soft. I suggest reheating before serving, but that's up to you.
🥛 Top tip
You can enjoy this for more than just dessert. I think it makes a great breakfast when heated up and served with a splash of milk instead of whipped cream.
What makes a crisp a crisp is the inclusion of oats in the topping. That's the big difference between a crisp and a crumble, which does not contain oats.
Not right away. This will make your crisp soggy. Let the crisp cool completely at room temperature if not serving right away. Then loosely cover the crisp, that way moisture is not trapped and condensing on the topping.
You'll know this cherry apple crisp is done baking when the topping is lightly browned and the fruit is soft and bubbling. You can always do a quick taste test and make sure the fruit is cooked to your liking. Just don't burn your mouth!
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