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.