Apricot Cherry Gratin with Marzipan Topping

One of the joys of summer here in the intermountain west is the variety of very good local stone fruit. Right now the apricots and cherries are in season. Combine them in this gratin and you have one delicious summer dessert. A few years ago a member of our book club made a lovely pear and apple gratin for one of our fall meetings. I decided to try something similar using apricots and cherries. The almond paste topping is adapted from a tart recipe by pastry chef David Leibovitz. It is a bit tedious to pit enough cherries for 2-1/2 cups but it goes fairly quickly with my method: stem cherries and place them on a rimmed baking sheet. Use the heel of your palm to flatten the cherry slightly, which releases the juice and pit. Remove the pit and tear the cherry in half. Save the accumulated juice in the pan and add it to your fruit for extra flavor.

Apricot Cherry Gratin with Marzipan Topping
Fruit Filling
4 cups quartered apricots (15-20 large ripe apricots)
2-1/2 cups halved Bing cherries with juice (1-1/2 lbs.)
1/2 cup vanilla granulated sugar (or regular sugar + 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract)
juice of half a medium orange
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
pinch of kosher salt

Marzipan Topping
1/3 cup almond paste
1/3 cup flour
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup coarse raw sugar
1/4 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 6-8 cup baking dish or 9×13 baking pan. In a large bowl combine the fruit for the filling along with vanilla sugar, orange juice, melted butter, and salt. Mix well and pour into prepared pan. In a separate bowl mix together the marzipan topping by combining almond paste with flour and sugars. Mix. Add diced butter and cut in to form coarse crumbs. Add nuts and distribute evenly. Sprinkle over prepared fruit filling. Bake for 45-50 minutes until fruit is bubbling and soft and topping is set. Cool on rack. Serves 6-8.

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