Never, in all my excitement over HBO’s version of Game of Thrones, did I imagine that I would get enough detail from the show from which to make food. However, nestled in among all the intrigue, in episode 2.8, Hot Pie mutters enough details to construct one amazing cherry crumble.
“You need sour cherries to make it right. The secret is you dry the stones and break ‘em with a mallet; that’s where the real flavor is. Then you crush ‘em up real fine, and when you’re finished, sprinkle ‘em over the pie crust… Sour cherries is all crushed up and ready. Probably in the pie crust by now. In the oven, the nice, warm oven…” -Hot Pie
The flavor is rich, while not overly sweet. Slightly spiced, flavorful, and authentically old world feeling, this crumble is ideal for a simple summer dessert, or a more luxurious breakfast. I made it without any sugar added to the filling, which really allows the cherry to shine underneath that layer of delicate crunchy crumble. There is enough sugar on top of the cherry, and in the crust, to satisfy a sweet tooth , balanced, before sugar became popular, true cherry flavor.
The mahleb, crucial ingredient, has tones of vanilla, anise, green tea, and something between cinnamon and nutmeg, all of which gives the crumble a nice subtle depth.
Nicely done, Hot Pie!
Hot Pie’s Cherry Crumble Recipe
Cook’s Note: My pie plate went missing the morning I made this recipe, so I used 6″ tart pans. The recipe made about 5 mini tarts, and might be stretched to fill six. If making one large crumble, the baking time may need to be adjusted accordingly.
For the Dough:
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- pinch of salt
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup granulated white sugar
For the filling:
- 2 lb. whole cherries
- 1/4 cup red wine
- dash of red wine vinegar
For the Topping:
- 3/4 cup flour
- 4 Tbs. brown sugar
- 2 Tbs. ground almonds
- a pinch each of ground cinnamon and nutmeg
- a pinch of salt
- 4 tbsp unsalted butter (1/4 cup)
- 1 Tbs. mahleb
Make the dough first: cream together the butter and sugar, then add flour and salt. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for at least 30 minutes.
Combine cherries, wine, and vinegar in a saucepan. Cover and simmer for around 15 minutes, or until the pits can be easily removed by squishing the cherries through a colander. Put cherry puree in a bowl
and add the honey. Allow to cool while you combine all the ingredients for the topping.
Line your tart pan with pastry dough (recipe above), and trim the edges. Pour the cooled filling into the shells, distributing evenly among them. Sprinkle the topping over each tart, concentrating on the middle of each. Bake for 25-30 minutes at 350F, until the crumbly top has begun to sink in, and is slightly golden and bubbly. Allow to cool slightly before serving.