26 July 2012

Rainier Cherry Streusel

Pictures, Recipe & Article by Carrie Cowan
When you read about the care and effort that goes in to growing and harvesting Rainier cherries you will gladly pay $4-5 dollars per pound for these little gems.  Rainiers are the sweetest, most delicious cherries out there.  Originally developed at Washington State University in the 1950’s, (Go Cougs) Rainiers are the pale yellow, blushing cherries that are so bountifully offered at the farmer’s markets right now.  Though Rainiers are lovely, they are very delicate and difficult to grow.  In eastern Washington, where the cultivar

Bake Me!

was first developed, cherry farmers watch over their orchards like new mothers.  Too much wind and the cherries will bruise.  Too much rain and they’ll split.  Farmers even hire helicopters to “air dry” the cherries after a sudden rain storm.  Rainiers must be hand-picked and hand-sorted.  All this effort over cherries?  Yes, these cherries are worth every ounce of the attention they receive.  Here is a sweet little dessert that’s just right for highlighting Rainiers.

Mini Cherry Streusel Pies
·         1 prepared pie crust
·         1 ¼ lb. Rainier cherries, pitted and halved (about three cups)
·         1 t. lemon zest
·         1 t. lemon juice
·         2 T. sugar
·         2 T. flour
For the streusel topping
·         3/4 C. sugar
·         3/4 C. flour
·         pinch salt
·         1-2 T. water
·         1/8 t. cinnamon
·         1/4 C. softened butter
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the pie crust into 9 rounds with a drinking glass and press the dough into a muffin tin.  The rounds should reach about half way up the sides of the muffin tin.  In a bowl, combine the cherries, lemon zest and juice, 2 T. of sugar and the flour.  Toss gently and spoon the filling into the 9 pastry-lined cups.  In another bowl combine the streusel ingredients with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly.  Add the water very slowly at this stage – if the mixture is too dry add a few more drops of water.  Spoon the streusel over the mini-pies.  Place the muffin tin on a rimmed baking sheet to

Feed Me!

catch any drips.  Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the streusel is golden brown and the cherry juices are bubbling with slow-bursting bubbles.  Let the pan cool for about ten or fifteen minutes.  Use a thin, flexible spatula to release the pies from the pan and place on a cooling rack.  It’s important to remove the pies while they are warm to prevent sticking.  Serve warm or room temperature.
Carrie Cowan