Chai Cherry Crumble

Fruit crumbles are easy desserts to make all year round because you can use either fresh or frozen fruit as your base. This Chai Cherry Crumble is a spicy twist on a classic fruit crumble, with chai spices in the filling and topping of this comfort food dessert.

Cherries are often left almost unadorned in pie and crumble fillings. They do have a delicious flavor on their own, of course, but cherries are extremely versatile and they go really well with all kinds of spices. Chai tea blends have no shortage of spices. Since I didn’t want to add a bunch of liquid to my filling – cherries produce plenty of natural juice on their own in the oven – I simply used dried spices to add those familiar chai flavors. The filling includes cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, allspice and vanilla. As always, I recommend using fresh spices for the best flavor (not something that has been in the cabinet for a few years already!). Since there is so much spice in the filling, I used a bit less on in the crumble topping, which only includes cinnamon, ginger and vanilla.

I used black, sweet cherries that I picked up in the freezer section of Trader Joe’s. They have a delicious flavor and I like that rich cherry sweetness in this particular dessert. Tart cherries, which are a good choice for a pie, don’t feel as rich in this recipe with all of the chai spices. Whether you’re using fresh or frozen, cherries give off a fair amount of juice in the oven, so I included cornstarch in the filling to thicken up the juices. They will bubble thickly in the oven when the crumble is done, and the filling will thicken up even more as the crumble cools.

The crumble is ready to serve about 20 minutes after baking. Leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated in the microwave the next day or two. The spices blend and come together even more after the crumble has been refrigerated. That said, I can’t resist eating at least two servings when this is fresh from the oven. The crumble will serve about 8 – but you’ll get fewer servings if you like yours as big as I do!

Chai Cherry Crumble
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 tsp vanilla extract

32 oz cherries, fresh or frozen
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl, prepare crumble topping. Whisk together flour, sugars, salt, cinnamon and ginger until well-combined. Stir in melted butter and vanilla extract until mixture is crumbly and resembles moist sand. Set aside.
In a large bowl, prepare the filling. Combine cherries, sugar, cornstarch, spices and vanilla extract and stir together with a spatula until everything is evenly mixed.
Pour fruit mixture into a deep 10-inch pie plate. Grab handfuls of crumble mixture and squeeze them in your fist to create large crumbles. Sprinkle crumble mixture evenly over fruit.
Bake for 60 minutes, until cherry juice is thickly bubbling around the outer edge of the pan. In the event that the crumble becomes too brown, simply lay a piece of aluminum foil loosely over the top of the crumble for the last 15 minutes of baking.
Allow crumble to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving to allow juices to thicken. Store leftovers in the fridge and reheat in the microware before serving.

Serves 8.

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