Prep Time: 20 minutes | Cook Time: 35 to 40 minutes
Good apricots have gone the way of phone booths. They used to be everywhere; now the few that are left are mere shells of their former selves. Those would be the rock-hard grocery store versions, of course, not the carefully tended farmers’ market fruit. Still, the holy grail is velvety Blenheim apricots with flesh that already tastes like jam. Only a handful of orchards are left, including in Silicon Valley of all places, and they just don’t ship well. Since I’m editing a book on apricots (here’s looking at you, Lisa) and have the fruit on my mind, I combed the Tuesday Recipe archives for a recipe that makes any apricot taste better. The key is baking, which concentrates the sugars and softens the flesh. Pairing with cherries puts a finger on the sugar scale, making the whole a little sweeter. It adds a great blush color, too, and the recipe is far easier than a pie. I’m going to bake this crumble and pretend I’m eating an apricot from my late uncle’s farm in Winters. That was the real California gold.
1-1/2 pounds firm-ripe apricots
1/2 pound sweet cherries
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup brown sugar
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup rolled oats
Preheat an oven to 375°F. Cut each apricot in half and discard the pit, then cut each half into 6 chunks. Cut cherries in half, pulling out the pits as you go. Put pitted apricots and cherries in a bowl and sprinkle with the granulated sugar and flour; stir in the almond extract and mix well. Set aside.
To make the topping, in a food processor, pulse the almonds and brown sugar until the almonds are finely chopped (if you don’t have a food processor, see note below). Add butter and pulse until just blended. Spread the apricot-cherry mixture in a 1-1/2 quart (6 cup) gratin dish or 7×9-inch baking dish. Scrape the almond mixture from the food processor into the bowl used to mix the fruit and stir in the oats, blending in any juices left behind in the bowl. Spread topping over fruit in baking dish.
Bake until fruit is bubbly and topping is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes or so before serving warm or let cool to room temperature.
note: you can grind the brown sugar and almonds in a blender, but then transfer to a bowl and blend in the soft butter by hand with a wooden spoon.