Fresh Sweet Cherry Pie with Coconut-Almond Crunch Topping

Desserts, Pie / Tuesday, July 14th, 2009


I know, cherry pies are supposed to have that classic lattice top. The one that gives them that retro, peek-a-boo, pin-up quality. But the lattice top really doesn’t bring anything different to the party in terms of flavor or texture. That’s fine when you have a bounty of fresh sweet cherries that deserve to be painted and photographed and have songs written about them.

But what about those times when you fold like an old letter and buy the cherries on sale at the grocery? The ones who’ve had a hard-knock life and will require a little extra attention to reach their full potential?

Those misfit cherries are perfect for this Fresh Sweet Cherry Pie with Coconut-Almond Crunch Topping.

On its own, the pie is very simple – just a crust full of sweet cherry filling helped along with a few tablespoons of cherry liqueur – but the topping perfectly complements the cherries and brings out their best. It’s a buttery, crunchy streusel made with pulverized almonds and sweetened coconut. Sweet and salty, creamy and crunchy. Add the topping to the pie midway through baking, and it turns a lovely golden color that makes you want to just skim it off the top and eat it by itself. In embarrassingly large spoonfuls.

But if you can show a little restraint, and let the pie cool until it’s slightly warm, you’ll have the perfect combination of buttery crust, warm fruit and crunchy topping, just waiting for a scoop of cold vanilla ice cream. You can compromise on the lattice top, but cherry pie requires vanilla ice cream.

It’s in the Constitution.

Fresh Sweet Cherry Pie with Coconut-Almond Crunch Topping

Adapted from Ken Haedrich’s “Pie”

  • 1 9-inch pie crust (homemade or packaged)

  • 4 1/2 cups fresh sweet cherries, stemmed and pitted
  • 1/3 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons cherry liqueur or peach schnapps
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
    Coconut-Almond Crunch Topping:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole, slivered, or sliced almonds
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flaked coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
  1. If you are using a homemade pie crust, roll the pastry into a 12-inch circle with a floured rolling pin. Invert the pastry over a 9-inch pie pan, center, and tuck pastry into the pan, sculpting the edge into an upstanding ridge. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes. (If using a commercial pie crust, follow the package directions.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the cherries, 1/3 cup of the sugar, the cherry liqueur, lemon juice and vanilla. Stir well, then set aside for 15 minutes to juice. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar and the cornstarch, then stir the mixture into the fruit. Turn the filling into the chilled pie shell, smoothing the top with a spoon. Place the pie on the center oven rack and bake for 30 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, make the topping. In a food processor, combine the sugar and almonds, and pulse until the nuts are chopped. Add the flour, coconut and salt. Pulse briefly to mix. Scatter the butter over the top, and pulse until the mixture starts to form gravelly crumbs. Dump the crumbs into a large bowl, and rub between your fingers until the mixture forms large, buttery crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  5. Remove the pie from the oven, and reduce the temperature to 375 degrees F. Carefully dump the crumbs in the center of the pie, spreading them evenly over the surface with your hands. Tamp them down lightly. Return the pie to the oven, placing it so the part that faced the back of the oven now faces forward. Just in case, slide a large aluminum foil-lined baking sheet onto the rack below to catch any spills. Bake until the juices bubble thickly around the edge, about 30 minutes. If the top starts to get too brown, cover loosely with aluminum foil for the last 15 minutes.
  6. Transfer the pie to a wire rack and let cool. Serve while barely warm with a scoop of ice cream.

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30 thoughts on “Fresh Sweet Cherry Pie with Coconut-Almond Crunch Topping

  1. I really love cherries but the prospect of pitting them is daunting to me. But this pie looks so, so worth it. I'll take your crumb topping over a lattice top any day!

    1. Pitting takes a while, because I'm just too cheap to buy the $40 cherry pitter that was THE ONLY ONE at the store. What?!? I use a paring knife and try to get zen about it.

      The crumb topping is really good on this pie, and I'm sure it would work on a peach pie, too. So much easier to slice, and I love that crunch. I'm a texture person.

  2. Wow! That looks delicious. I don't think I've ever seen that combo before, but it has to be good. Cherries, coconut, almonds…how bad could it be! I'm bookmarking this on Delicious.

  3. Lucky, lucky cherries getting saved from their hard knock life…. :)

    Your pie sounds good, makes me think twice about my dislike of warm mushy fruit.

    1. I can't believe how many people don't like baked fruit, including Jeff. I like this pie warm, but I think if you left it cold, it would make a fine breakfast and not too mushy.

    1. You will LOVE this pie. I'm all about texture, so the soft cherries and the crunchy coconut-almond topping do it for me. Nice, because it stays crunchy for a few days.

  4. Gorgeous…Mark's favorites are cherries, so I am surprising him with this for his birthday Sunday! Wish me luck…you always make it sound so easy…me, not so much. Very lovely photos of all of this, btw.

    1. Thanks! I'm so excited you're making the pie for Mark this weekend. It IS easy, but if you have any questions, you know you can always Twitter or e-mail me.

      Another reason to love this pie is that it slices so easily. I hate slicing into a pie and then chasing the fruit and juice around the plate. This one stays together.

    1. Thanks, but this recipe is so easy, it makes me look good. If you have any interest whatsoever in making pies, you should see if the cookbook I used is at your local library. It is LOADED with tips and interesting trivia. You'll look like a pro in no time.

    1. Thanks! As soon as I saw this recipe in "Pie," I knew I had to try it. I agree, cherries and coconut are perfect together, but you don't see that combo very often. We've got to bring it back!

  5. This looks and sounds great. I just saw some awesome looking cherries at Sam's Club and thought that I should bake something with cherries ;-) This definitely fits the bill!

    1. Thanks! Our Whole Foods is selling cherries for $1.99/pound this week – the best price I've seen anywhere. Definitely time to take advantage of the bargains.

  6. Your pie looks fantatic!!!! Is there a substitute for the alcohol? Believe it or not, but some adults out there really do not drink alcohol ;).

  7. Rebecca – Nice site and good work. I was just at Whole Foods about an hour ago (known around here as Whole Paycheck) , piles of lovely cherries stacked everywhere, and I was reminded how remiss I've been in the cherry pie department this summer. Thanks for the reminder…and for paying homage to one of my personal favorites.

    Ken Haedrich
    Author "PIE"

  8. […] or peaches. In another entry for the indulgence category, Rebecca at Ezra Pound Cake shares a recipe for cherry pie. I particularly like the fact that rather than going for the traditional pastry lattice roof, […]

  9. I have always wanted to make cherry pie but the recipes seem to call for sour cherries which I can never find. I am hoping to make this tomorrow but i don't like coconut so i thought i would put in oatmeal. any other suggestions? i love almonds but the coconut doesn't do it for me.

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