{sms} Fresh Cherry Pie with Pistachio Crumble (+ Ice Cream)


I love fresh cherries. When in season, I buy buckets and buckets of them from the farmers’ market.  Per baking lore, sour cherries are the variety used in pies. Unfortunately, in Southern California we only have sweet cherries.

The only time I’ve seen fresh sour cherries was when I picked them myself while on vacation in Upstate New York at Hick’s Orchard. If you’re ever in the Adirondacks near Lake George check them out. When in season, they have sour cherries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, plums, pears, and pumpkins.


The very first pie I baked was a Classic Sour Cherry Pie with Lattice Crust made with those cherries in the above picture. It was the cover recipe on the June 2008 issue of Bon Appetit. It was also the subject of one of my first blog posts.  You can see my pie HERE. If you do have access to fresh sour cherries, make this pie because it was amazing.

I don’t know why it’s better to use sour/tart cherries in baking. Is it because the size (sweet cherries are larger)? Is it because the sweet/tart factor (you can always adjust added sugar)? Is it the liquid (sour cherries are more watery)?  I’ve baked with both and have great results with both.


This week’s Sweet Melissa Sundays selection is the Sour Cherry Pie with Pistachio Crumble. Melissa Murphy the author of The Sweet Melissa Baking Book and owner of the  Sweet Melissa Pâtisseries says this recipe is her favorite. And I can see why. The crunch of the pistachios in the crumble topping adds texture to the sweetness of the cherry filling.


Because I wanted to use fresh, locally-grown cherries for my pie I used sweet cherries. I used two types: Rainier and Brooks. I also used my mini-pie plates.


The suggested piecrust was the Flaky Pie Dough. The recipe uses a higher proportion of shortening to achieve flakiness. It actually has more shortening than butter. So the crust was nice and flaky, it didn’t have a lot of taste. I prefer taste over flakiness. It also didn’t have any sugar. In retrospect, I should have added sugar.


I had extra pie filling and pistachio topping so I baked some cherry crumbles in ramekins which I topped with Toasted Almond and Candied Cherry Ice Cream. The recipe for the ice cream comes from David Lebovitz’s The Perfect Scoop and is so delicious. The base is steeped with finely chopped toasted almonds and then coarsely chopped toasted almonds are added in the last two minutes of churning.  Chopped candied cherries are folded in when the ice cream is done churning. To up the cherry flavoring in the ice cream, I added natural cherry extract. YUM. If you love almonds and love cherries, you will love this ice cream.


Thank you to Michelle of Flourchild for choosing this recipe as we bake our way through the book. It was a great choice. A definite winner that deserves a full-size bake from me another time. If you want the recipe you can find it on Michelle’s blog or HERE.


44 thoughts on “{sms} Fresh Cherry Pie with Pistachio Crumble (+ Ice Cream)

  1. Even if I had no idea what cherries tasted like, I think I could taste them just from LOOKING at these desserts. Gorgeous! (I just ordered an ice cream maker – with extra bowl!- and can’t wait to try it out.)

  2. I love almonds and cherry together! With all the egg yolks we’ll be collecting during June’s TWD, I can’t wait to see what other flavours of icecream you make. Crumble topping for pies are the best!

  3. Thanks for this…I almost bought some sweet cherries the other day to bake with, but decided against it because of the “sour cherry myth.” Now I’m definitely going to try something with the sweet cherries!

  4. I’m with you on the flavor vs. flakiness ratio for pie crusts. I use all butter because I think it tastes better, and it’s all about flavor, ya know? Your mini pie is adorable!

  5. I always use all-butter for pie crust because it does give better flavor. Who cares if it’s flaky if it doesn’t taste like anything?

    I love the ice cream flavor – what an outstanding combination!

  6. This looks just lovely! Here in France, cherry & pistachio crumbles are a standard in the patisserie windows – I’d never thought of trying to make one myself!

  7. That last picture of the ice cream is a killer! Mine never photos that good, it always gets all melty before I get a good shot!

  8. Those little pies look just perfect. We don’t get local cherries in Texas (it’s way too hot) so I used frozen cherries and I didn’t love the result. I love fresh cherries though so maybe I can try this again when cherries are in season around DC. I agree with you 100% on the pie crust — flakiness just can’t make up for flavor.
    The cherry almond ice cream in TPS is the one page that I stop on most frequently and ogle. I’m hoping (fingers crossed) that I can get an ice cream maker this summer and then maybe I can make it, too!

  9. I’ve made that ice cream before, too, and it was really good. I’m glad for the reminder, as I’ll have to make it again, soon.

    I ended up using frozen tart cherries as fresh cherries aren’t in season in our area. A local farm grows the Ranier ones and we love those. The kids and I eat them fresh, they never even make it into a recipe!

    (Oh, and I used to live in Southern California. Ladera Ranch, to be exact.)

  10. I think I’m going to have to buy “The Perfect Scoop” just from the wonderful things you make here! I love the idea of the pistachio crumble on the cherry pie! The nuttiness must pair nicely with the sweet, tart cherries! I can’t wait to pick up my buckets of cherries! Hurry up north summer!

  11. I’ll bet those minis and the ice cream were so good with those wonderful local sweet cherries. I don’t think I’ve ever cooked with sour cherries; I’ll be on the lookout for them. When you make the full pie, save me a slice!

  12. Very Pretty and I love the ice cream too! Picking your own pie cherries and then baking them in a pie is such a rewarding feeling. Especially after having to pit all those cherries. Beautiful little pie =).

  13. All of your photos are so gorgeous!! I love your mini pies, and I think the deep red color of the sweet cherries looks beautiful in contrast with the pistachios. Great job!

  14. Your mini pies look amazing!! I love that you always make ice cream to pair with your desserts – it makes them look even more delectable!

  15. Everything looks delicious! I love the mini pies! I’m definitely with you on the pie crust though – I really enjoyed the pie but the crust didn’t have much flavor.

  16. Awesome looking pies, and the ice cream is making my mouth water… I’ve been eyeing up that recipe in the Perfect Scoop for a long time, but want to wait until I can use fresh cherries rather than those little European ones that come in jars. After seeing it, I might not be able to wait until cherry season!

  17. I have been cooking with tart cherries for the past six months. They are a great addition to any of the recipes I have used them. They add a good zing to the taste. I recently discovered a free tart cherry book (with tart cherry recipes). It is a good book and best of all it is free. It is called Tart Cherry Health Report. Here is a link if you are interested: http://www.traversebayfarms.com

  18. Your pie looks fabulous! You’re right about the crust though…it could’ve used a bit more flavor–and some sugar. Oh well, the pie looks great and I know it was delish! And I bet that ice cream was just divine on top. Sorry I’ve been away for the past week; I had a good friend in town and wasn’t able to do much on the computer. I’m back now, though 🙂

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